The Sunday talk shows and much of the press and radio today are trying desperately to grasp why the Irish public would turn to a man with both Fianna Fáil and construction sector connections in a country ruined by both.
The analysis that has been missing is that Sean Gallagher looks and feels the part. People aren’t voting in a Government with power; they’re voting on a figure head for the state to represent them at home and abroad. Someone to showcase the country and, an often stated criteria for a president, someone who will not embarrass us.
The many photos of Sean and his photogenic wife engender an image of a youthful energetic presidency and maybe even an exciting presidency. His media career and grilling in recent weeks show us he will not be an embarrassment – he’s ran his campaign with a cool steady hand. As I said, he looks and feels the part.
This, and very little else, are most people’s criteria for presidency.
Turning to the others:
- Michael D Higgins – a laudable candidate and a man with a distinguished career. But, and while very unpolitically correct, his age is an unspoken issue for many people. He’ll be 70 going in and 77 going out. He does not engender the energetic vitality that the country could benefit from. He is also, it has to be said, a little quirky and this may not be what a lot of people look for in their representative abroad.
- Martin McGuinness – a man rightly deserving of a lot of credit for his work in Northern Ireland in recent years but questions remain. His IRA past and how far in the past that is. While conspiracy theories about Gallagher being a FF plant are far fetched at best, there is an extreme absurdity about McGuinness professing himself as an independent rather than a Sinn Fein candidate. Too much of a dark and bloody past which would follow him to every country throughout his presidency.
- Gay Mitchell – another laudable candidate with a distinguished European career. But, and I’m sorry, a huge square peg looking to fill a small round hole. Those of the 500 delegates that voted for Gay at the election – and especially Fine Gael’s TDs and Senetors – have a lot of questions to ask themselves. The presidency was probably theirs for the taking but they literally gave it away. Both Gay himself and his campaign have been uninspiring and, I’m sorry to say, boring. A fine legislator, an awful president.
- David Norris – a lesson in how not to run a campaign. He and his advisers definitely missed Politic 101. He came in with way too much baggage and rather than dumping it fast and dealing with it, he chose to carry it with him as long as possible feeding headline after headline. Many of that baggage also shows a candidate with very questionable decision making capability. Like Michael D, he’s also a bit too quirky.
- Mary Davis – another candidate with a laudable history. But, like Gay, her campaign has been uninspiring and boring. We also know we’re electing a couple here and her husband has been too much in the background. The decision of the photo used on her posters was also a mistake and has been an embarrassing issue that has followed her campaign – it also leaves a taste of dishonesty.
- Dana – came in too late and, frankly, is just a bit too cuckoo. Her campaign has been dogged with issue after issue leaving unanswered question after unanswered question. Her tenancy to brandish a book of the constituency in the beginning was cringe worthy as was and is her talk of a living breathing document. Her desire to protect the constitution and the people of Ireland made me very uncomfortable and she has shown an extreme misunderstanding of the job she is seeking time an again. Norris looked like a string contender for the odd ball campaign but Dana has well and truly snapped that title.
To my mind, people are voting for someone to fill the role of president who will look and feel the part. And, to me, that means people are voting correctly.