Saturday 17 March 2018

Healy-Rae may throw cap in ring for Presidency -- and it's no joke

Declaration on airwaves not an April Fool's prank

Recently retired TD Jackie Healy-Rae announced on Radio Kerry yesterday that he is considering joining the race for Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: Collins
Recently retired TD Jackie Healy-Rae announced on Radio Kerry yesterday that he is considering joining the race for Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: Collins

Lise Hand and Majella O'Sullivan

The folk in Radio Kerry thought they had come up with the perfect bonkers April Fool wheeze to wind up the good citizens of the Kingdom.

They would set up an interview with Jackie Healy-Rae in which he would declare his intention of running for the Presidency. What a jolly joke it would be.

And so they put a call into the recently retired South Kerry TD to see if he was game for taking part in the spoof. And Jackie was more than happy to do the interview -- but there was one slight snag, he explained. The thing is, he's in the process of mulling over throwing his cloth cap into the ring for the Aras.

Ah g'wan Jackie, guffawed Radio Kerry. No, really, said Jackie. Really and truly, gasped Radio Kerry. Not the word of lie, insisted Jackie.

Nor was it. And so yesterday morning, April 1, presenter Jerry O'Sullivan got his world exclusive with the King of Kilgarvan.

"I'm definitely considering it anyway, and that's no joke," declared Jackie, explaining that "eight or nine" people whose views he respected approached him with the idea that he'd be a mighty Uachtaran na hEireann.

"I never lost an election in my life. I'll discuss it further now with my own team and in about 10 to 15 days I'll have my mind made up -- I wouldn't contest it to lose," said the feisty Jackie.

Nor is the 80-year-old in the slightest bit worried by his potential rivals for the plum job. "I'd have equally as good a chance as Sean Kelly or our other friend in Dublin, Mr Norris," he reckoned.

And as an Independent candidate, the prospect of garnering the necessary nominations from 20 TDs or four county councils didn't faze him either. "I think I'd get them no bother in the world," he proclaimed.

There was a huge response to the Radio Kerry interview. "I spent the first half hour of the show trying to tell people that it wasn't an April Fool," said O'Sullivan.

"The wind-up on the show was another piece on how everyone was going to be made drive one way around the Ring of Kerry due to the heavy amount of tourist traffic. But listeners believed that one and thought the interview with Jackie was the April Fool."

And later the Man Who Would Be Prisidint confirmed to the Irish Independent that he was cogitating on the matter. "If I want the job, I'll go for it," he declared.

One person at least reckoned Jackie's the man for the job.


"He's a highly experienced politician with absolutely brilliant capabilities and an excellent and articulate mind," declared his son Michael, who hung on to the Healy-Rae seat in last month's election, ensuring that the tartan cap wasn't taken out of Irish politics.

Michael, former director of elections for his dad, believes Jackie would have no problem in cranking up his formidable election machine. "I've no doubt his organisational abilities would serve him well in a nationwide campaign," he said.

Alas, the people of Ireland have two long weeks to while away while Jackie ruminates over his next move. After all, he's a spring chicken in comparison to Dev, who retired from the presidency at the age of 90. Sure he'd liven up the Aras no end -- and there'd be the clip-clop of happy-in-their-nappy jarveys touring the Phoenix Park.

The only pity of it is that Jackie won't be in situ soon enough to host a visit from Queen Elizabeth -- the pair of them could have a lovely cosy chat over a pot of tay.

What an entertaining Presidential election it could be if Jackie and David Norris and Michael D Higgins and the Two Beards, Sean Kelly and Fergus Finlay, all fling their chapeaux into the ring. It'll be Ireland's own Wacky Races.

And then there's Bertie the Beloved. The Iar-Taoiseach also popped up on radio yesterday to announce his candidacy for the Presidency.

"There are a lot of people in this country still who acknowledge the work I've done with Tony Blair, Bill Clinton and others in relation to the peace process," he told Ryan Tubridy.

"Ah g'wan, Bertie" guffawed the nation. "Happy April 1st" admitted Nob Nation.

Jackie in the Aras is one thing -- but Bertie running for the Park? Not even the dumbest April Fool in the world would fall for that one, oh, no sirree.

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News