With the rugby out of the way it’s full focus on the Presidential election, a rare enough occurrence. Mary McAleese has held the prestigious though largely ceremonial position for the maximum two terms, a total of 14 years. Before her Ireland’s first female President, Mary Robinson, served for seven years. Both are generally acknowledged to have represented Ireland with distinction and dignity. With the nation in direr straights than most you would hope that the incoming postholder would be someone of stature, a leader of people, someone around which the Irish people could rally. Let’s see who’s in the frame then, in alphabetical order.
Mary Davis is 57 and is an independent candidate. She has the benefit of being a McAleese appointee to the Council of State. She has been a prominent campaigner on behalf of the disabled and is most well known for her role with the Special Olympics, albeit a well-paid one. Her campaign has been tainted with allegations of cronyism – an endemic Irish trait whereby one feathers one’s nest – and she is a 16/1 shot.
Sean Gallagher (49) is better known for being a dragon on RTEs Dragon’s Den. A successful, self-made businessman with leanings to the traditional but disheveled Fianna Fail party Gallagher is presently 2/1 with Paddy Power. With both political and ‘real world’ strengths the country could do worse.
Michael D Higgins (70) is the present front runner. President of the Labour Party Higgins has had a distinguished career not only as a politician, but as a human rights campaigner and man of the arts. Unlike some others he seems to carry little baggage and would probably make a good President.
Martin McGuinness is 60 and is the Sinn Fein nomination. Both his weakness and strength is his former leadership of the IRA at the height of the Troubles. Since then he has renounced violence and played a key part in cementing the peace process. He is presently Deputy First Minister for Northern Ireland. At a time of political and economic upheaval it is an opportunity for a maverick candidate but it is doubtful if enough voters will see him as their representative in the world. 12/1.
Gay Mitchell (59) is the Fine Gael nomination. He is a member of the European Parliament and has been long been involved in both local politics (he is an ex-Lord Mayor of Dublin) and as an opposition front bench leader in the Dail. His somewhat liberal views haven’t helped his campaign. 40/1.
David Norris is 67 and an open gay and civil rights activist. An independent Senator and long-time lecturer at Trinity College he has fought and won successful battles against the Irish establishment. He is however damaged by some of his more extreme assertions and his pretty creepy views on pederasty. 33/1.
Poor Dana Scallon was born too late. Now 60 she still appeals to some oldies who remember her winning the Eurovision Song Contest 41 years ago. Unfortunately her alignment with the discredited Catholic church and her extreme pro-family views don’t sit easily in the new Ireland. Her concealment of her dual US/Irish citizenship is the last nail in her coffin.
Voting day is 27th October, place your bets.