Tradition of outspoken presidents - No need for a eunuch in Áras

Tradition of outspoken presidents - No need for a eunuch in Áras

Anyone who thinks that President Higgins is losing the run of himself by speaking out on controversial issues would do well to remember that outspoken presidents have been the norm rather than the exception for almost 30 years.

The only difference is that Mary Robinson, from 1990, and Mary McAleese, from 1997, chose to use symbols and gestures more than words to make their views known.

Remember when Mary Robinson shook Gerry Adams’ hand? Constitutional politicians on both sides of the border had a fit.

Against the wishes of the then taoiseach, Charles Haughey, she was the only head of state to meet the 14th Dalai Lama during his tour of Europe.

How about the moment Mary McAleese took Communion at the Anglican St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, drawing the wrath of the Catholic hierarchy?

During a state visit to Russia, she launched an unprecedented attack on the Central Bank of Ireland for its role in the financial crisis.

So, when Michael D highlights the poor salaries of Defence Force members and launches a broadside against zero-hour contracts, he is expressing the kind of spirited humanitarianism exhibited by his immediate predecessors.

While we would not welcome a president who shows party political bias, the holder of the highest office in the land should be a voice for the voiceless.

The last thing we need in the Áras is a political eunuch.

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