Thursday 19 January 2017

Colum Kenny: A President for the people must keep it plain and simple

The challenge Michael D Higgins faces is to communicate rather than just pontificate, writes Colum Kenny

Published 29/01/2012 | 05:00

How is your paradigm? If you do not even know what a paradigm is, then last week's speech by Michael D Higgins may have passed you by. And that would be a pity. Because he wants to be a President for all the people, and he was saying something useful.

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Higgins was talking to academics about how citizens have been thrown to the market wolves, and about what we can do in the current crisis to protect people. He peppered his speech with terms and references that he may have felt were needed to impress his university audience. But his challenge as President is to communicate rather than just to pontificate.

Ever since then US President Ronald Reagan received an honorary doctorate at University College Galway, in 1984, I have not felt the same about such ceremonies of the National University of Ireland. Sitting through that ingratiating event among a hardened White House press corps was plain embarrassing.

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