Sunday 24 September 2017

Higgins has far fewer worries than our former presidents did

President Michael D Higgins is a pragmatic politician
Shane Coleman

Shane Coleman

IT was Des O'Malley who famously said of Michael D Higgins on his appointment to the cabinet two decades ago that he would "go mad" in office. Higgins, widely regarded as a fine Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, defied such predictions. The maverick, left-wing firebrand proved he could be a pragmatic and nuanced politician.

But if ever there's a position to test the patience and the political nous of its holder, it's the presidency. Technically, it's the highest office in the State. In practice, it's a largely powerless institution that can leave its occupier feeling frustrated and impotent.

It also has a habit, as Michael D Higgins discovered for the first time last weekend, of throwing up controversy.

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