Saturday 25 February 2017

Shane Coleman: Michael D exceeded his powers but he is still on-message with Coalition

President Michael D Higgins pictured during the opening ceremony of the Hunger Nutrition Climate Justice conference in the Conference Hall, Dublin Castle as part of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, yesterday.
Pic Frank Mc Grath
President Michael D Higgins pictured during the opening ceremony of the Hunger Nutrition Climate Justice conference in the Conference Hall, Dublin Castle as part of the Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, yesterday. Pic Frank Mc Grath

IT'S well over 20 years since Des O'Malley predicted Micheal D Higgins would "go mad in government". O'Malley was proven wrong. Higgins switched with ease from anti-establishment rebel to the Cabinet, excelling in his role as Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht between 1993 and '97.

But President Higgins's comments yesterday, criticising the ECB and European leaders for their response to the economic crisis, will re-ignite concerns about whether he is suited to the narrow constitutional constraints in which a President must operate.

It seems almost beyond debate that the President exceeded his powers yesterday – and arguably not for the first time. The constitution is pretty explicit about the limitations of the role.

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