Readers' Blog: Office of President deserves much better

Sometimes a collective moment of clarity comes as a relief. Think of that kid who dared to venture “…but the emperor has no clothes on”.

Readers' Blog: Office of President deserves much better

Sometimes a collective moment of clarity comes as a relief. Think of that kid who dared to venture “…but the emperor has no clothes on”.

Everyone had a collective “I knew that” moment, once they knew they wouldn’t be laughed at, for imagining there may be some “great lie”.

Our Presidency (and it’s candidate selection methodology) is our own great lie(s). I’m calling for people to use their democratic rights urgently to fix this — or else to boycott it.

Nobody should say anti-democratic — as no true democrat would partake in the shamelessly fixed hoax our Presidential contest is. Is it any wonder a confused populace turn to second-rate reality TV stars? Steering clear is a nobler option.

Dev/JCMcQ’s Constitution (an overrated relic) opportunistically foresaw the Presidency as the mother of all retirements — for Dev.

Dev pissed on our democracy — causing our most tragic episode, the Civil War — by refusing to accept the democratic will of our sovereign people who accepted the Treaty.

So we came up with an Irish (non) solution to an Irish (non) problem. We’ll set up this Presidency thing so — because a Republic (a word battered beyond all recognition — especially here) should have a nominal head of state. We’ll pretend it’s all democratic and (get this) “above politics”.

It’d be ideal if the office was held by people never politically tainted. Hmmm. How’s about — if we made it so that politicians — and only politicians can nominate all candidates. By rank — senior (TD) and intermediate (Senate) hurlers get one vote each. County councillors/junior hurlers get a team vote to decide who goes onto our Presidential ballot paper. You can’t be President unless you get nominated by politicians for this “above politics” job — oh do try to keep up. We are advertising a job that’s above (and beyond) politics. If you want to propose a runner you have some very serious political ass to kiss to get near a ballot paper.

To show respect for fair democracy unsullied by politicians, it may be more of a patriotic duty to boycott these shady political shenanigans.

The incumbent only needs his own nomination to re-run — nice. The 20 Oireachtas members route means Sinn Féin is now the only major party that will honour and respect its democratic mandate enough to run someone (maybe Gerry hasn’t gone away?) Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael — who were jointly mandated to run the country (but not via ‘confidence and supply — nobody voted for that) are the real winners of the DeValera ‘don’t piss down my back and try to convince me it’s raining’ Memorial Award for Anti-Democratic Activity.

Besides their own candidates embarrassing them in the past and not having any suitable ‘talent’ to run — they admit they want to keep their few shekels for what they see as the forthcoming ‘real’ election. The scramble around looking for councillors, most of whom have already been ‘told’ by the top three parties how to vote, is undignified and not in our best interests. And as for the reality TV stars — well maybe it’s just me or I’m too old — but for that reason and for that reason only, I’m out.

This is not a republic of equal opportunity, alas. If you’re rich with your own or Oireachtas funding for PR spin etc, you can run. We need rich people only, apparently. If you’re young, like under 35, you couldn’t do this job. We need grey sensible rich respectable people. Apparently, that’ll impress the world with our youthful dynamism. Don’t be fooled by someone who demeans the job by saying they’ll do it for no salary. They’re putting zero value/return to Ireland on their intended effort, but really it’s just that old barrister/devilling system, only us rich people could afford to work without salary so that’d leave only a rich suitable elite for the job — no wage slaves or worse welfare recipients need to apply — let’s keep it classy.

What would we the sovereign wish for if we could visualise our own runners? Some might prefer their pet dog or cat to a pet dragon. Some would swell up with pride at some of the dignified patriotic types they could come up with, if the rules allowed. You’re duty bound to obey good rules, but morally obliged to try to change bad rules. If candidates didn’t need to be loaded with our money or their own money, and they didn’t ‘have’ to be middle-aged, imagine what you could come up with.

Coming up with our own list by our rules — that’d be a patriotic exercise in true republican democracy.

Let’s nominate/whittle down our own collective fantasy list first. I’ll fire in a name just to start you off — Joanne O’Riordan. Young, fun, smart, representative of us — now there’s something middle aged institutionalised politicians could have nightmares about. Then we might even end up with an impressive President we can all be proud of, and a new Presidential candidate selection system that’s fit for purpose. Such a new president can consult me anytime for free for my opinion — that much I’d gladly afford as my patriotic duty.

Could someone so inclined on social media (under 35s — since you can’t run?) start campaigning for change — so the sovereign Irish people can choose who they want as President — rather than jaded narrow politicians? We will never get the President we deserve if we are waiting for those browbeaten politicians to put some great candidates on there — non-politicians, non-celebrities, non-rich smug old people (I’m 52 so I fall into the last bit). Here’s an email address ( — let’s get something going?

T Ó Risteaird

Tipperary PS

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