Sunday 20 October 2019

Seven years of silence ahead for our new President after Thursday


AAND SO the presidential campaign has entered the final furlong. Those living on the islands have already cast their votes and the remainder of us are currently enduring the final few days of what has felt like a very long campaign.

The surprise of the weekend for me was how Seán Gallagher stormed ahead in the polls. To see him jump to 40 per cent as of Sunday was something I thought could never have happened. Sure, I thought he would put it up to the likes of Michael D. Higgins and, in the earlier days, David Norris, but to see such stern support coming through confuses me about what people want.

Fine Gael picked the wrong candidate and are paying the price now as Gay Mitchell languishes at the lower end of the polls.

Of course he and his team are not going to admit defeat at any stage and this wouldn't instil much confidence in the supporter he does have but he was never really in the race.

This is unfortunate as a different sort of candidate could have made a much more interesting mark on the campaign.

Commentators speculated that the electorate is leaning towards Gallagher to oppose the establishment and to select a president who has not been an elected politician in the past.

This happened in the General Election and for many voting Independent allowed them to vent their frustration towards Fianna Fáil.

Gallagher has never made any secret of his affiliation with the party but if people are still seething about all that has happened it surprises me that they would vote for anyone who has any links with the political party they hold responsible for bringing down our country.

That said, Gallagher has, dare I say it, the celebrity factor and is a familiar face to people, but is not recognisable as a politician.

I suppose Dragons' Den isn't the worst programme to be associated with, but it's still reality television.

Speaking of celebrity, Gallagher has nothing on Dana Rosemary Scallon, who was our Eurovision sweetheart many moons ago.

As she has outlined many a time she was an elected MEP but taking place in reality GAA coaching show Celebrity Bainisteoir just weeks before declaring for a presidential election is inappropriate.

I'm not saying Dana let herself down on that show and if she weren't running for the presidency there would be no harm in the world in it.

A president, however, shouldn't be associated with any such celebrity.

The familiarity of Dana might explain how she has managed to move ahead of Mary Davis in the polls – although it's a safe bet to say the next president won't be female.

Martin McGuinness emerged as a surprise to me in terms of popularity. He, like the other six candidates, has played it very safe on the hustings and it seems like it has paid off for him.

Until Higgins's frustrated outburst at the weekend aimed towards Gallagher they have all kept quiet when it comes to criticising one another in an attempt to portray themselves as positive and respectful.

Perhaps this is good practice as whoever is successful in their bid come Thursday will have to swallow their political pride and bite their tongue for the next seven years.

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