WHEN he was elected as President of Ireland, some feared that Michael D Higgins would find the constitutional constraints of that office a source of frustration.
But his well intended intervention in this sorry saga, calling for a balanced inquiry, has raised eyebrows about whether he has crossed the constitutional line at a time when the State is embroiled in a diplomatic incident with India over Ms Halappanavar's death.
Under the Constitution, the Government must approve all presidential communications, messages or addresses.
Others have struggled with the seen-but-not- heard-too-much constraints of presidential office.
Her successor Mary McAleese incurred the wrath of the Catholic Church when, as President, she received communion at a Church of Ireland service.
When they do cross the line, presidential interventions can have an enormous impact, so Presidents – from whom we demand great skills of empathy and leadership – must choose their defining moments wisely.
President Higgins's intervention, expressing sympathy with the family of the late Savita Halappanavar, was not a defining moment and we should not rush to censor him.