Tuesday 17 January 2017

Mary Kenny: Role of the president is vital to Ireland's success

Published 29/08/2011 | 05:00

My old friend and colleague Tim Pat Coogan has gathered quite a bit of support with his radical suggestion that Ireland doesn't really need a president at all. There was no president in the first constitution of the Irish State, he points out, and the current position was merely set up by de Valera in 1937 as a "well-paid old folks' home".

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At the best of times, we can do without a president, and these are not the best of times. Why not spend the money instead on supporting hospitals and education rather than on this "Ruritanian institution, with its aura of the Raj and the Vice-Regal Lodge"?

If you were going to be completely utilitarian about this issue, why not demolish Aras an Uachtarain altogether -- the former Vice-Regal Lodge -- and replace it with a hospital or a school? Or a high-rise car park? There was a similar proposal made, back in the 1960s, by those factions who favoured getting rid of anything associated with the remnants of colonialism: knock down Georgian Dublin and fill it with high-rise concrete blocks. Fill in the Grand Canal and turn it into a motorway.

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