Posts Tagged ‘ Gay Mitchell ’

International IMPAC Dublin Literary Awards 2012

The long list for next year’s awards has been announced and so if you are looking for some good reading for a winter’s evening then the list of 147 titles would be a good place to start. Handy for Christmas presents too; you are guaranteed to come across something to please everyone.

This is a prestigious award presented annually for a novel written in English or translated into English. To be eligible for the award 2012 the book must have been published between 1st January 2010 and 31st December 2010. Translated works are eligible if they were published between 1st January 2006 and 31st December 2010, but they have also to have been published in translation before 31st December 2010. This gives a potentially very wide pool for the selectors to choose from. This breadth of choice makes the long list such fascinating reading in itself. You could travel the world in books by reading the translated works; eighteen languages this year.

Before looking at how the awards work here’s a quick overview of the background. Improved Management Productivity and Control (IMPAC) became involved as result of a survey that the company management did amongst its staff to find out what they most liked doing in their spare time. The answer that came back was: reading. Later, as a direct result of a meeting between the chairman of IMPAC Dr James B Irwin Snr with the then Lord Mayor of Dublin Gay Mitchell the award was initiated. Another of the recent presidential candidates David Norris was also involved in the early planning stages. The first annual award was held in 1996 with the winner that year being Remembering Babylon by David Malouf.

The structure of the awards hinges on Dublin City Libraries who co-ordinate nominations from libraries in capital and major cities around the world. The libraries can each nominate up to three novels on the basis of ‘high literary merit’. The shortlist will then be whittled down to a possible ten titles by a panel of judges and will be announced on 12th April 2012. It is a colossal organising process with votes from 162 libraries in 122 cities in 45 countries to be managed smoothly. The judges will then select the eventual winner which will be announced on 13th June 2012. All in all it’s a very long process.

At present the non-voting chairman of the panel (which changes every year) is Eugene R Sullivan who has been serving since 2004.  The international judging panel changes every year. On this year’s panel of five judges is Irish writer Mike McCormack whose most recent novel is Notes from a Coma. Deliberations amongst the judges will probably be intense. The winning author stands to win a hefty €100,000 and a rather nice trophy from Dublin City Council. For a translated work the prized is shared (€75,000/€25,000) which is a fitting acknowledgment of the importance of the translator’s skill.  

Of the titles nominated three are from home grown talent. Battling it out for the Waterford Crystal Perpetual Trophy are Emma Donoghue (Room), Tana French (Faithfull Place) and Paul Murray with Skippy Dies. Room has the distinction of being nominated by more libraries than any other book on the long list. The novel managed to secure nominations from Ireland, England, France, The Maldives, Australia, New Zealand, USA and Canada which is an impressive feat by itself. But will any of them make the final cut?  There was an Irish winner last year with Colum McCann’s Let the Great World Spin; maybe Emma Donoghue will make it two in a row.

Meanwhile there’s reading to be done!


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.

Sinn Fèin Leap To McGuinness` Defence


Sinn Fein have reacted angrily to quotes from Minister of Justice Alan Shatter’s remarks that Martin McGuinness is “not an appropriate person” to become the next president of Ireland.

The statements made by Mr Shatter pointed to the fact that Mr McGuinness did not attend a dinner at Dublin Castle in May for the visit of Queen Elizabeth,stating that he chose to ignore such a monumental ocasion.

“Martin McGuinness has been doing a very important job in Northern Ireland but in the context of his capacity to be a reconciling force across the whole island of Ireland, I think his failure to embrace the Queen’s visit, and to turn up at Dublin Castle at a time when Peter Robinson and his wife attended, indicates that he isn’t an appropriate person to be our president,” he said.

Shatters judgement has also resonated from Fine Gael presidential candidate Gay Mitchell who added that McGuinness` entry into the presidential race poses “very real questions” for the Irish people to answer. 

However, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has fired back at Mr Shatter, stating that he should not enter the debate and that the Irish people will ultimately decide McGuinness’ suitability.

“I find it completely wrong that a government minister would interfere in the democratic process in such a manner,” she said.

“It is the people who will decide who is fit for the office of President and not Alan Shatter or the Fine Gael Party.

*For more build up and coverage of the race to be the next Irish president, visit, a website purely devoted to the presidential race and run by Irish News Review Editor Glenn Dowd.  

Norris Campaign Ends Amidst Controversy

Senator David Norris has announced that he is to withdraw from the race to be the next Irish president after his campaign became emroiled in controversy.

The Senator made the much anticipated announcement during a press conference in Dublin today.

Mr Norris` campaign grinded to a sudden halt this week after two of his main aides resigned from his campaign, citing his role in aiding a convict, who was an ex partner, to obtain leniency from authorities. Earlier today, three politicians  who had backed Norris withdrew their support thus making Norris` position as a candidate in the presidential race untenable. 

It emerged the senator and equality campaigner had written a clemency letter to Israeli authorities 14 years ago for his former partner, who was convicted of having sex with a 15-year-old boy.

Mr Norris said he deeply regretted the controversy concerning his former partner, Ezra Nawi, but not the writing of the letter.

“The fall-out from his disgraceful behaviour has now spread to me and is in danger of contaminating others close to me both in my political and personal life,” he said. “It is essential that I act decisively now to halt this negative process.”

“I do not regret supporting and seeking clemency for a friend, but I do regret giving the impression that I did not have sufficient compassion for the victim of Ezra’s crime.”

Norris was widely regarded by many as the most favoured successor to Mary McAleese, but now with the October election looming it looks like a tense battle for the Àras between Labour candidate Michael D Higgins and Fine Gael`s Gay Mitchell.