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Wife circumventing curbs on President’s utterances

Sabina Higgins’s presence at the National Student Midwives’ Debate, on May 4, where she said that our abortion laws were ‘an outrage against women’, was one of 16 events attended by her in a solo capacity this year.

The listing of the public activities of the President’s wife is to signal that her public remarks will not undermine the stature or reputation of his office; that such remarks are not to be construed as those of a random citizen. The President is obliged to promise, in the presence of Almighty God, to maintain the Constitution of Ireland and to uphold its laws.

The Constitution also prescribes strict restrictions if the President desires to address the nation on a matter of public interest, and prescribes that such an address must have the approval of the Government.

Citizens’ challenges to referenda led the Supreme Court to decide, per curiam, that government intervention in such campaigns had to be fair and impartial. If the President is obliged to maintain the Constitution, to uphold its laws, and to obtain the advice of the Council of State and the approval of government before addressing the nation on a matter of public interest, and if the Supreme Court has defined the character of government campaigning prior to a referendum, then who advises and directs the President’s wife, when she takes on the role of a ‘campaigning libertine’ and expresses ‘outrage’ on a matter that could be in a future constitutional referendum?

Myles Duffy


Co Dublin


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