Robinson built the bridges but McAleese got people to walk over them
Published 10/11/2011 | 05:00
IN 1973, Fianna Fail's Erskine Childers fought an energetic campaign to become Ireland's fourth president, insisting he had only agreed to run on the basis that he could "expand" the role of president. In his biographer's words, he wanted to play the role of "composer and conductor of the National Orchestra".
After he was elected, these hopes faded as he became a prisoner of protocol. He did however, invite people from Belfast to Aras an Uachtarain, and took on a huge variety of engagements before his active presidency was brought to an abrupt end when he died in office in 1974.
His successor Cearbhall O Dalaigh, an agreed candidate, who had suggested presidents could not have policies but could choose a theme, resigned in 1976 after he was insulted by the Minister for Defence Patrick Donegan.