Wednesday 26 October 2016

'I was capable of a lot of things when I was 21, but not of being President'

Emma Jade Hade

Published 16/05/2015 | 02:30

Emma Jane Hade
Emma Jane Hade

When I was 21-years-old my parents didn't believe I was responsible enough to have a debit card.

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When I was 21 my idea of a cultural trip was a last minute holiday to Salou with a gaggle of equally irresponsible friends.

When I was 21 my idea of a problem was not having enough cash for a new dress or a night out with the girls. When I was 21 I was in college and I travelled to the States with my friends on a J1 trip. When I was 21, I was still learning more about myself, the world I lived in and I was still forming opinions. I know one thing I was most definitely not able to do when I was 21-years-old - run for President. Even though I felt I could take on the world, I was quite happy studying in DCU and working part-time as a waitress.

My brilliant parents gave my little brother and I some amazing opportunities and we travelled the world when we were younger. But even now, at the ripe old age of 24, I still don't believe these experiences could even bring me close to the calibre of people who have occupied the office of President of Ireland. Next Saturday I will be reporting from a count centre and I hope that the Irish electorate votes strongly against lowering the minimum age of Presidential candidates from 35-years-old to 21.

The idea of lowering the minimum age to one that is barely the legal drinking age in some countries is absurd.

If that's the case, One Direction star and Mullingar's favourite son Niall Horan could be in with a likely shot of moving in to the Phoenix Park. And Tinsletown starlet Saoirse Ronan could assume the role once Niall is finished having his fun. Now, I am not saying that either of these would do a bad job. But the difference between being them and an older person is years, nay decades of life experience.

These are memories and emotions that no money or degree could ever buy.

I can't help but compare the 21-year-olds I know to those nine Presidents that have gone before us.

Mary Robinson assumed the office when she was 46. And now almost two decades after she left the role, her legacy lives on.

Our current President Michael D Higgins is, at 74, a gently spoken scholar who carries himself with grace. When I watched him on the historic State visit to Britain last year, I was extremely proud.

If I'm blessed with children in the future, I want them to grow up in the type of Ireland I did, a progressive and changing nation.

And for that, we need someone mature and wise to guide and represent us.

Irish Independent

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