Posts Tagged ‘ Aras ’

And they’re off!

With possibly the most interesting presidential race in the history of Ireland underway, what do people think of the candidates that have been put before us? Who is Áras material?

David Norris

Although this should not be the case, the first thing a lot of people think of when they think of Norris is that he is the gay candidate. Many citizens have come out and said, while they don’t have problem with him being gay, they don’t think he should be president. Many others say their lack of support has nothing to do with his sexual orientation, but more his lack of judgement in light of the letters of clemency for his former partner, who was convicted of statutory rape. Others are worried that other dynasties would not be accepting of him because he’s gay, which would, of course cause problems in representing Ireland. On the positive side, people feel Norris is a massive campaigner for human rights, civil rights and gay rights. He decriminalised homosexuality in Ireland and is an articulate, well educated senator.

Martin McGuinness

The first thing a lot of the public might think of when they hear Martin McGuinness’s name is IRA. He has already admitted to being in the IRA for a short amount of time. Immediately people jump from there to other questions: Did he murder people? How long was he really in the IRA ? Can we trust him? Other members of the public believe what’s in the past is in the past and the old IRA was fighting for an important cause at the time, therefore should his actions then be judged as they would be in modern times? McGuinness also played a massive part in the peace process inNorthern Ireland. This was a huge development for Ireland, so he clearly stands for things that are important to this country. Yet, he refused to meet the Queen. People find this worrying because one of the few major jobs the President has is to meet other figure heads and represent Ireland and if he cannot do that, maybe he’s not cut out for the job, despite his active role as a peacemaker.

Michael D. Higgins

He seems to be the favourite according to most of the polls. He pushed to get Norris his final nomination will make him look attractive amongst the Norris advocates. But what else do people know and think about him? He became the Minister for Arts in 1993 and he’s also the president of the Labour Party and a well-known poet, author and broadcaster. His main disadvantage is his age. As the oldest candidate in the race, people worry he’s passed his time and will not represent the majority of the public. However, he has campaigned for human rights and has been endorsed by Martin Sheen. He’s a strong contender. He is seen by the public as a representation of the more romantic version of Ireland.

Gay Mitchell

As a long serving politician, people feel that Gay Mitchell is too much a part of the Government to take up the independent role as President. He is seen in the eyes of the public as a bit of a ‘grey character.’ He’s one of the least talked about candidates in the race and members of the public don’t have much interest in finding out more about him. His strongest support will probably lie in the Fine Gael supporters as he is considered ‘very Fine Gael.’ His biggest controversy involves letters of clemency he wrote on behalf of a prisoner on death row. Some people feel this is too much interference on his part.

Mary Davis

Independent candidate Davis is a social entrepreneur and the managing director of the Special Olympics. I don’t think people were massive fans of the fact that she hogged a grand total of 13 county councils when she only needed four. However, I think the public has moved on and are looking at her credentials. She does have a bit of legal experience that will stand to her but people worry that she’s not as independent as she seems and also that she is too narrow in what she wants to bring to the job. Despite this, she’s doing relatively well in the polls.

Sean Gallagher

An entrepreneur, successful businessman and most well-known as one of the dragons on Dragon’s Den. He also has a strong community background and does a lot of work for the rights of those with disabilities. With his strong business background, the general consensus is that he will be mostly focused on the current economy and push for more enterprise and jobs. However, as the youngest candidate, there is also a worry that he doesn’t have enough experience, or at least, that his experience is too specific and he will not have the ability to carry out important presidential jobs like signing off on new legislation.

Dana Rosemary Scallon

She’s “all kinds of everything.” MEP, Eurovision winner,family woman. Could she add president to her list? She tried to in the past, running against Mary McAleese, but, obviously, fell short. Now, she’s back again. People’s immediate thoughts on Dana would be “Is she serious?” “Does she have any necessary criteria to be President?” However, despite officially entering the race late, she managed to get her four county council nominations without problems. She has a surprising amount of support, particularly for her strong family and social values. She will have support from the older generation and from rural parts of the country. However, a slightly worrying concept is the fact that a woman on the radio recently said she’d be voting for Dana because she’s a lovely woman and she was great in the Eurovision. However, apart from the likes of that woman, Dana’s not doing as well in the polls as her competitors.

As usual, the presidential election brings about plenty of opinions from the Irish electorate, and not just about the candidates. Many believe it is a pointless office, a waste of money with the salary as well as the upkeep of the Áras. It is also a general feeling in light of Norris almost missing out on a nomination, that the nomination process is flawed, with no public input at all. In addition, people felt cheated when Fianna Fáil opted to waste their 33 signatures and abstain from nominating anyone. This could turn out to be one of the most exciting Presidential elections to date.

Norris Looking To Re-Enter Presidential Race

Appearing on Friday night`s The Late Late Show, Senator David Norris confirmed that he is seeking the minimum 20 votes required for nomination to re-enter the race to become the next President of Ireland.

When asked directly by host Ryan Tubridy how many of those votes he currently has, Senator Norris was coy and refused to reveal, “this is a poker game” he added. Mr Norris did say that he understood why some of his previous backers had withdrawn their support and he held no ill feeling towards them.

Senator Norris acknowledged that it will be a tough fight but one he’s not afraid of, and he is buoyed by his belief that “people love a comeback” and aren’t afraid to give “second chances”.

Norris stated that should he go on to win the race it would be the “greatest comeback in Irish political history”.

Senator Norris did not have the interview all his own way however, and faced some tough questions from Tubridy who was determined they speak on the incident that lead to the Senator’s withdrawal from the Presidential race in July.

The Senator withdrew from the race following controversy over a letter he wrote in 1993 to the High Court in Jerusalem seeking leniency for a former partner who had been convicted of the statutory rape of a 15-year-old boy. The letter had been written on Seanad headed paper and within the letter Senator Norris also mentioned that he had being touted as a possible Presidential candidate. The Senator stated on last night`s show that he didn’t really believe at the time that he was a candidate but thought it would add weight to the letter. The Senator went on to add that everybody was sending these official letters at the time.

Mr. Norris acknowledged this was a serious “error of judgement” on his part and that he had “reached out a hand to help a friend”. The Senator said that more politically canny individuals would not have sent such a letter however he is someone who cannot reject an appeal for help, adding that if he helps strangers how could he not try to help a friend. However, Senator Norris stated that he “did not condone or excuse” what his partner had done and abhors the abuse of children.

When pushed on a previous interview Senator Norris had given in which he was reluctant to deny advocating a case for “classic pederacy” the Senator said he was misquoted and that his answer had been based on an academic understanding of the term and not as was portrayed in the article. Mr Norris went on to state he does not believe there is ever a justifiable case for sexual relations between an adult and minors, as in the situation with his former partner.

Mr. Norris finished the interview by stating that he’s not perfect but “if you’re waiting for a perfect President then you’ll be waiting a long time”.

This may be quite an apt statement given the day’s earlier shock candidacy announcement.

It was revealed yesterday that deputy First Minister in the Northern Ireland Executive, Martin McGuiness, will be the Sinn Féin candidate for the Presidency.

Mr McGuinness is expected to be unveiled as his party’s nominee in a press conference in Dublin later today. Although a key figure in the Northern Ireland peace talks, along with Sinn Féin party Leader Gerry Adams, Mr. McGuinness is also known to have been a leading member of the Provisional IRA.

Speaking yesterday Mr. Adams stated: “I believe he can be the people’s President. If elected he will draw the average industrial wage. He will dictate himself to a genuine national reconciliation and the unity of our people.”

With the party holding 14 seats in the Dáil and 3 in the Senate, it leaves the party requiring the support of 3 more members of the Oireachtas to have the 20 signatures necessary for Mr. McGuiness to officially become a candidate in the race.