By Louise Walsh
One of Ireland's most acclaimed guitarists has declared his interest to run in the presidential election - in rock n' roll style!
Composer and musician Jimmy Smyth (60) is appealing for support on social media to be enabled to debate with candidates the role - that he doesn't really want!
The Co Meath born artist says he has thrown his hat in the ring with a Change.org petition and if he gets the backing of the public then he will go to local councils for support.
The Navan man, who once turned down Phil Lynott's offer to join Thin Lizzy and has supported U2 just one year after forming the band, The Bogey Boys, has already gained the backing of jazz maestro Paddy Cole and musician Steve Wickham.
Over the years, the Grammy-nominated star has worked with artists including Van Morrison, Tony Childs, Roger Dalrey, Curtis Steigers, Chaka Khan, Lisa Stansfield, Gilbert O'Sullivan, Mary Coughlan and Roger Daltrey as well as the National Concert and RTE Orchestras.
He was even notoriously mentioned on the Late Lunch Show when Gay Byrne described legendary Rory Gallagher as Ireland's best guitarist and the Donegal man replied that there was a better guitarist from Navan called Jimmy Smyth.
Now living in Dublin's Malahide, Jimmy has decided to declare his intention for election "to stop the rot in this country."
"I've declared an intention to run for the presidential election based on a different premise than anybody else may be doing. My intention is to get to the point where I can debate with the other presidential candidates and find out why exactly they want to run for President," he said.
"I've a petition online and I want to get a weight of numbers that would allow me to show the local authorities that I have a mandate from the people to run and then be able to debate with the others.
"It's not my goal to win the presidential election, personally I think Michael D Higgins is and will again be a great president, though I think he has failed the arts a little bit.
"I don't want a career in politics. I'm a musician, composer, writer and player who is very involved in the arts. However, I think we have reached a point as a Republic where we do need a root and branch change."
Among things he has mooted for change are improvements and additional support for Ireland's arts, saying; "We're a nation of saints and scholars, not bankers and developers."
Although acknowledging the latest proposal by Independent ministers to give a €1000 grant a year to grandparents for minding their grandchildren, Jimmy says it's not enough
"It's a great idea, but it's also insulting as most creches charge up to €500 a week for children which make it infeasible for a parent to go to work, unless they're in a high paying job.
"A grand for a granny is exploitation of a sacrosanct family value, so pay them what they deserve for the love and nurture they give their grandkids and the freedom from childcare debt they give their children, many of whom would not simply be able to afford to set foot outside their door to work and pay taxes otherwise."
The skilled musician says he was driven to declare to represent the people on the ground.
"There are soup kitchens in my hometown in Navan now. I'm 60 and have never before seen such a need for this.
"We also need to reenact Articles of the Constitution 47 and 48 which dictate that if an elected representative is doing a bad job, we can sack them on the spot, we don't need to wait until the next election.
"This is a real social experiment to see if people really want to operate as a Republic and not be governed by the elite. Let them know the people have power.
"Sign my petition or shut up and stop moaning because nothing will change otherwise," he concluded
Further information can be obtained at: https://www.change.org/p/the-people-james-smyth-for-president