Saturday 21 January 2017

Leo Varadkar's comments on President were ill-advised

Published 03/06/2016 | 02:30

President Michael D. Higgins (Picture: Steve Humphreys)
President Michael D. Higgins (Picture: Steve Humphreys)

It seems bizarre and extraordinary that Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar should find it necessary to publicly declare, 30 months before the next presidential election, that President Michael D Higgins would receive "broad cross-party support" were he to seek a second term, citing as supporting evidence that he "is making an excellent president" (Irish Independent, June 2)

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Article 12.4 of the Constitution provides that former or retiring Presidents may become candidates on their own nomination - so "broad cross-party support" is irrelevant in the case of President Higgins, or in the case of former Presidents McAleese and Robinson. The minister's intervention and judgment is neither necessary nor relevant.

It is noteworthy, however, that the Fine Gael candidate in the 2011 presidential election received less than 7pc of first-preference votes. The lacklustre Fine Gael campaign prior to this year's General Election resulted in a massive drop of 32pc in first-preference votes won (257,398 fewer votes), resulting in the formation of the weakest Government in the history of the State.

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