Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Next President

An election for the presidency, the highest office in the land, is in the offing. And there has been a certain amount of media hoopla concerning it in the lead up to that event. There also has been many jokes made about the fact the several of the candidates were what are called 'dragons' on a TV show titled 'The Dragons' Den'. Well, I suppose there would be. One good one, what with the incumbent being called Michael, involved one about St Michael having to slay the dragons. Although no doubt Michael D. might consider it wrong for anyone to refer to him as a saint … not because he doesn't consider himself good, but rather because I'm not at all sure he believes in such things as saints ...

But, of course, the reason we have all these candidates from outside of the political spectrum is really down to Dana. She was the first person to go down the route of looking for nominations from county councils. Prior to that who might run was essentially in the hands of those sitting in Leinster House (although, of course, the President could always decide to run again if he or she chose to). Dana's bold move opened up the possibility of a much wider field of candidates running for the Áras … and certainly in the run-up to this election variety certainly seems to define those who would be president. All kinds of everything is Dana's legacy in more ways than one!

All the same, I think it is a good thing. The office was in danger of being viewed as a place where senior politicians go to retire (which, based on the exemplary record of those who held office prior to her intervention, it most certainly was not). And that those sitting in the Dáil and Seanad could effectively decide there would be no election if they didn't feel like one was good neither for the democratic process or the legitimacy of the office. And so I think it must be said that we owe Dana quite a debt of gratitude.

Every silver lining has its cloud, however; and this alternate method of securing nominations has brought with it a slew of presidential hopefuls whose grasp of the very few powers the president has under the Constitution seems rather limited. Thankfully, our local representatives have proved very adept indeed at weeding out the wheat from the chaff in this regard. After all their hard work of nominating candidates, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves if we end up electing someone we later consider to be unworthy of that office.

So the upcoming race should prove to be an interesting one; perhaps even an exciting one. However, I do hope we are done with all these dragon jokes. There's only so many times you can laugh at what's essentially the same joke. And if a line isn't drawn under this and one of them gets in I suppose the jokes will 'drag on' for years!

this article appears in today's issue of the Kilkenny Reporter

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