So the Presidential Race has begun in earnest. Michael D went to the races to present the Galway Plate and to assure us all he was “ in a very fit condition”, which was probably a sensible idea as he is seventy seven. Interestingly another candidate for the Presidency, Gavin Duffy, has stated the following with regard to the President’s age. “ Neither I, nor anyone on my campaign, will be allowed to raise that issue”. The reality, certainly with the people I’ve been talking to, is that it is an issue and silence on the subject won’t make it go away.
So this brings me to Gavin Duffy. To be honest I don’t quite get it. Why is he running for the office ? As he said himself, it would be “wrong” to say that people have been urging him to run. In his opening interviews he said that his main concern at the moment was how the media were going to cover the campaign. Good grief man, how about your concern for the nation or your vision for the future ? You have to get down and serious in a hurry otherwise people are going to think this is simply a branding exercise. Nevertheless, Gavin has debating skills and in a TV setting could provide a bit of excitement. Don’t forget to ask Michael D about Castro.
So what in the blazes is going on in Fianna Fail ? I just wish somebody in Fine Gael would come out and call for the party to put forward Mairead McGuinness as a candidate for the Presidency, thus placing Leo in the same position as Micheal Martin is with Eamon O’Cuiv. I will admit as I write this I am not sure where this story is going. However, what is clear to me is that if Eamon O’Cuiv did decide to run, he would make an excellent candidate, and there is for old timers like myself a certain gravitas that he carries by way of being Dev’s grandson. How many votes that translates into I don’t have a clue.
What all of this does emphasise is that Fianna Fail is not in good shape. There is no question that they should have put up a candidate for the Presidency. I’ve said it already but it would have given them an opportunity to differentiate themselves from Fine Gael. There is a real danger out there unless they get their act together they could disappear like the SDLP in the North. They have done the State some service over the last few years. They have provided us with stable government whilst Fine Gael have taken all the credit. The stakes are high and the last thing the party needs is a fractious squabble over the Presidency. That’s up to the candidates.