Posts Tagged ‘ President ’

A Year in Brief: Part Two


Part two of NIB’s yearly round-up because 2013 was just too good! (Read part one here).

Dublin’s new bridge, crossing the Liffey at Marlborough Street and connecting Luas lines on each side of the river, was on the lookout for a name. A list of 85 possibilities was suggested by the public which was then shortlisted by Dublin City Council to 17. Some suggestions in a comments thread on The Times website included: Bosco Bridge; Daniel Day Luas Bridge (nice); Da Plain People O’Ireland Bridge; Jedward Bridge; and NIB favourite, the Feckin’ Bridge. Continue reading

News in Brief-Ireland Goes Blaa Blaa As Michael D Set To Visit Lizzy


Blaa, Blaa, Blaa, only in Waterford! That’s right, the floury nap has been given protected status so that the name Blaa can only be applied if the bread is made in the South East. They join Champagne, Cornish Pasties and Feta Cheese after a group of Waterford bakers united to prevent imitators.

A nun has had her claim for damages of €38,000 after a car accident quashed as the judge ruled the accident never happened. Sister Helen Ugbome, of the Nigeria-based Holy Family Sisters told the court she was hit in the rear of her vehicle by Edel Macklin from Glasnevin, while stopped at traffic lights. However Ms Macklin disputed the claims saying, she was stopped behind Sr Ugbome when she got out of her car, told Macklin she’d hit her and got her insurance details. The judge however wasn’t having it and suggested Sr Ugbome was in fact trying to claim an estimate of insurance after an accident a month previous. God giveth and God does taketh away. Continue reading

New Road Bill To Bring About Significant Changes

gdaThe Road Traffic Bill 2013 has been published by Transport Minister Leo Varadkar. If it’s passed into law, drug impairment tests will be brought in, along with an increase in penalty points, and new ‘N’ plates for novice drivers. These plates would be required for the first two years of a new licence, and also apply to motorcyclists. Novice and learner drivers would also be subject to a lower number of penalty points for disqualification; six points – which is half the level for fully licenced drivers – would mean a two year ban. Continue reading

News in Brief-Daly Kicks Up A Storm As Obama-Mania Takes Over

Clare-DalyThe O’Bamas were here this week enjoying a trip to Glendalough and a portion of chips with Bono. Hasn’t all been Guinness and skittles though. Clare Daly’s been a bit mean about the Presidential family visit and the G8. Daly asked: “Is the US President seeking hypocrite of the century award?” Er, pot, kettle Clare, before branding him “Mr War Criminal” not the most original nickname. Continue reading

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.

McGuinness and The Aras – Progress or Controversy?

As has been expected the decision by Sinn Fein deputy leader and North’s Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness to run for election as President of Ireland has proved to be quite controversial.

Last Saturday Mr. McGuinness was officially unveiled by Sinn Fein as their candidate for the Presidential election and swiftly received the support of 3 additional Oireachtas members to add to their 17 to give Mr. McGuinness the 20 votes required to enter the race. The additional support came from Kerry Independent TD Michael Healy Rae, Luke Ming Flanagan with Finian McGrath and Tom Flemming also believed to have provided their support.

Mr. McGuinness is well known to have been a leading member of the provisional IRA in the past and has gone to prison on two occasions as a result of this membership. Unsurprisingly it is this period of his past and the many heinous events executed by the IRA during this time of his membership that sits uneasily with many people. Within the past week we have seen much public disapproval of Mr. McGuinness’ decision to enter the race, with former TV presenter Gay Byrne brandishing both McGuinness and Sinn Fein as “liars”, saying: “they don’t mind lying and they’ve rehearsed their lies and they’ve been trained to lie.”

Should Mr. McGuinness win the race for President then he would assume the titular position of Head of the country’s Defence Forces, an issue which has irked many including Justice Minister Alan Shatter who believes that somebody with Mr. McGuinness’ “exotic background” would be “somewhat inappropriate” for this position.

Another aspect which appears to be overlooked but should be considered if Mr. McGuinness becomes President is his relationship with an Garda Síochana. Na Gardaí are the security providers to the President of Ireland yet one would imagine there must surely be an element of the Gardaí with some negative feeling towards Sinn Fein and Mr.McGuinness. There have been many events which could cause tension between the two but an act which lead to much disdain toward Sinn Fein was the 1996 killing of Det. Garda Jerry McCabe by the IRA. One would not be surprised if some members of an Garda Síochana were unhappy at having to protect a man of his alleged background and standing within an organisation that caused so much distress, in the South aswell as the North.

Sinn Féin have come under further criticism in this country for their boycott of the State dinner President McAleese hosted in Dublin Castle for Queen Elizabeth II earlier this year. This was seen by many as an ideal opportunity to make further strides in the reconciliation of the two countries and acknowledge the progress that has been made for peace, yet Sinn Féin as a party were very public at the time in their refusal to attend. This has raised questions as to how Mr. McGuinness would act, as head of this State, should he be required to meet the Queen or any other members of the Royal Family.

Mr. McGuinness himself has stated that he would be willing to meet Queen Elizabeth should he become president. He has also acknowledged being a member of the Provisional IRA and has condemned the killing of Det. Garda Jerry McCabe.

McGuinness has said on his time in the IRA: “ I don’t divest myself of my responsibility during the time I was in the IRA, I have plenty of regrets”. Yet his account of his time in the IRA is in stark contrast to that which has been reported. Former head of the RUC Special Branch Chief Superintendent Brian Fitzsimons and former RUC Chief Constable Hugh Annesley have both stated that Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were key figures in the provisional IRA and that Sinn Féin and the provisional IRA were inextricably linked.

McGuinness has employed various tactics in response to questioning on this issue. To his credit he has always acknowledged he was a member of the IRA, however on certain occasions he has refused to answer the extent of his involvement. More recently as the Presidential race has progressed he has adopted a more open stance, stating that he had fought and fired a gun but that he had never killed anybody, either directly or indirectly.

However it is Mr. McGuinness’s record as a peacemaker that his campaign is based on. Martin McGuinness has been a key figure in establishing peace in the North. One of the most powerful images of the newly established peaceful North was of Martin McGuinness and Ian Paisley side by side laughing and joking like old friends. Remember these were men considered to be sworn enemies. Men so opposed and divided in their beliefs that the thoughts of them being in each others company for long enough to work together seemed far-fetched. Yet there they were. Huge credit must go to McGuinness for his part in working so successfully with those from all sides.

Yes, his past is one of alleged violence, yet his present seems firmly one of peace. Mr. McGuinness has also highlighted his credentials for the ambassadorial role that comes with being President, on last Sunday’s “This Week” on RTE Radio 1, he said :

“ I’ve been in the Oval Office with three Presidents, I’ve been at the invitation of Nelson Mandela to South Africa”.

Let’s not forget either that Nelson Mandela was also considered a terrorist. Which brings us to the other argument in favour of Martin McGuinness as President. Wasn’t one of Ireland’s best loved political figures, former Taoiseach and President, Eamon DeValera a terrorist? He was of course a member of the original Irish Republican Army and fought in the 1916 rising. Is there such a huge distinction between the bloody wars fought by the IRA of then and now?

For those who believe Senator Norris as President would give the image of a progressive Ireland, could it be argued that Martin McGuinness as President would give an even stronger image of progression? Could it provide an even more powerful symbol of how far this country has come from its troubled past? Or would it give the wrong image, the President of this country with such a controversial past – some acknowledged but even more alleged?

Please comment and let us know what you, the reader, think of this issue.  

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 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.

Shove it up your Àras

With Ireland on its knees and seemingly no way out of the economic depression we are currently enslaved to, few have pondered to question the necessity of one our highest positions, that of president. 

Once a proud nation thriving under the era of the Celtic Tiger, we are now a nation besotted by economic hardship owing to the criminality and greediness of wanker bankers and unqualified politicians. The ordinary people have suffered the burden yet these fat cats walk free, our problems having no effect on their luxurious lifestyles. 

By the end of 2011 half a million people will be claiming the dole and the future of the country will have abandoned ship, forced away by emigration, some never to return. 

The least of our problems at present is to elect a new president, with the country set to go to the polls in October. The role of the president of Ireland is unique in many ways, it is more symbolic than influential. Serious consideration is needed in all quarters as to the future of the Irish presidency? Should we scrap it temporarily or should we have a part time president, one who doesn’t require a full time residence, full time entourage and full time staff. 

Mary McAleese has done a tremendous job in her role as president since 1997 and although the end of second term is nigh, few would question her taking the role for a third spell. Might McAleese do so on different terms? Surely cutbacks in this department can be made and no doubt the Belfast native would agree.

 We live in a country where every Euro counts, savings is our motto. Cutbacks, tax hikes, you name it we have tried it. Yet few cutbacks have been made at Àras an Uachtaràin. 

McAleese gave our country fierce credibility in the face of the recession. He role symbolised everything it should unlike her predecessor Mary Robinson, who was a great custodian yet who dipped her feet into the murky world of Irish politics during her reign. 

Ireland are not the only country to have fallen onto hard times yet there is something enshrined within us that causes us not to protest, unlike our counterparts in Greece and beyond. 

The Irish constitution of 1937, known as Bunreacht na hÈireann cites the role of president as the directly elected head of state who’s powers are largely ceremonial. Concluding that he or she acts on the advice of the government.

This particular element of our constitution must be amended as we simply cant afford to allow the position of the president to laden us with such a burden of debt. Roughly €3 Million could be saved if the “intellects”, a term I hold loosely, running this country realise that this valuable money could be reinvested into our ailing healthcare system or elsewhere.

We as a nation must unite for a common good and help each other so as the country can get on the road to recovery. A part time president can be very beneficial and there is nothing to state a part timer would do anything differently. Otherwise, there are also conflicting arguments which would show the position of president can be suspended temporarily.

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.