So the race for the Áras has officially begun, with all the rigmarole of getting onto the ticket finished. Now, it’s all about the final seven and who’s going to be left standing at the end. Here are your Áras Factor finalists:
· David Norris – “the only gay in the race,” Senator Norris is a strong campaigner for human, civil and gay rights. His letters of clemency on behalf of his former partner might be his undoing in the end.
· Michael D. Higgins – The bookies favourite, he got in on Labour’s nomination as president of the Labour party. He has a strong culture background but has also been a strong campaigner for human rights. His push to get Norris into the race “in the interests of democracy” will see him do well on transfers.
· Martin McGuiness – Possibly the most controversial candidate in the race, McGuinness has admitted being the IRA for a short time around the time of Bloody Sunday. However, most believe he was a leading member for much longer, although that has never been proven. He also played a major role in the Good Friday Agreement. In addition, he is the Sinn Féin candidate, and everyone knows Sinn Féin is a well-oiled machine when it comes to campaigning and turning on the charm.
· Mary Davis – To be honest the main thing I knew about her was her involvement with the Special Olympics and the fact that she was appointed to the Council of State. What I will remember about her during this campaigning is that she hogged as many councils as she could even though she only needed four. By nomination deadline, she had taken thirteen councils for herself, in contrast with Sean Gallagher who asked councils to consider other candidates once he had obtained his four.
· Gay Mitchell – I know very little about Gay Mitchell other than the fact that he is a very strong Fine Gael member who has been a long-serving politician. This is probably the most interesting thing about him as it would make one wonder about how much he will just become a Government spokesperson. He’s probably the dullest character in the race, considering no one seems to know that much about him, and no one wants to find out.
· Sean Gallagher – One of my favourite Dragons on Dragons’ Den, he’s an entrepeneur and successful businessman. Sean Gallagher also has a heavy community background and supports the rights of people with disabilities. As the youngest candidate, people worry he lacks experience or that he is too tunnel-visioned with his plans. On the upside one of our main problems at the moment is unemployment and he would be hugely interested in generating employment and enterprise.
· Dana Rosemary Scallon – What can I say about Dana? She’s all kinds of everything (couldn’t resist). A Eurovision winner, an MEP, a previous presidential candidate, a protector of family values. I have no other words for her really. I know she’s big into protecting the Constitution and she lost out to Mary McAleese the last time but that’s it.
One thing I would like to point out is that Fianna Fail should not have wasted their 33 signatures by refusing to nominate anyone. In my books, that is one of their jobs, as members of Government. In the silly system that nominates presidents it is their job to put people on the ticket on behalf of the public and they did not do that. If possible, they have done themselves more damage.
In addition, Fine Gael did themselves no favours when they clearly tried to block David Norris’ nomination through the councils. Never mind though, because Michael D picked up the support for that by making sure Norris got on the ticket. How do we decide who to pick out of this basket of characters? Do we even need a President? Is the way they’re nominated fair?
I want your thoughts for this one, since I’ve already practically given my own thoughts on the candidates.