Thursday 23 November 2017

Presidential hopeful Norris heralds 'new day' for nation

Fiach Kelly Political Correspondent

PRESIDENTIAL hopeful David Norris claimed people were crying out for a political revolution as he officially launched his bid for Aras an Uachtarain yesterday.

The senator said he was not running for the glory of high office, but for the difference it could make to people's lives. He said if elected, he would sell Ireland around the world.

"What people continue to say to me. . . is that now is not the time for politics as usual, rather a time for political revolution, where the welfare of the Irish people comes first," he said.

And the prominent gay rights activist claimed his sexuality would not be an issue with voters. "I don't see myself as a gay president, I see myself as a president who happens to be gay. I think the Irish people are a little bit bored with my sexuality."

Mr Norris stuck to the tradition of launching a political campaign with a candidate walking around town shaking hands with the great unwashed.


He played a video of himself saying hello to the people of Dublin, set to the backdrop of trendy music and catchy slogans. "Ireland is ready, willing and able. . . resilience and optimism . . . a new day to shine."

All it was missing was the five-point plan.

But the 2011 Presidential Election is but an excited political nerd's hiccup away, as voters are likely to go to the polls in October.

All the candidates are limbering up -- well, as best they can, given the age profile -- in anticipation of the race. First up is "Norris for President", with "Vote for me says Michael D" expected in the next few weeks and possibly "Let's get rootin' for John Bruton" soon after that.

"It is with a sense of duty and resolve that I put my name forward," Mr Norris said at his launch in the science gallery in Trinity College, the university that has sent him to the Seanad at every election since 1987.

It was all very professional -- balloons, fancy posters and professional branding. His sexuality didn't matter a jot, he insisted, and he wouldn't respond to attacks along those lines in the election.

President Norris would bring austerity to the Aras, and give up some of the €250,000 wage that goes with the gig. Not that he was too specific as to where it would go or how much he would give up, mind you. "I am setting it aside for a fund that will make my presidency more accessible to the people. This is the people's money, and I will live as frugally as I can."

But there may be something to Mr Norris's message of instilling confidence back in the people. If the general election was about the hard choices that have to be made, then why not balance that out with an optimistic presidential contest?

"The challenge for the next president will be to restore self-confidence to our people. They are hurting," Mr Norris added.

"To remind ourselves, and those abroad, about all that is good about this country. Ireland has never been a country of everyone to themselves, but rather each playing their part for the common good."

But it can't be all sunshine and lollipops and Mr Norris says he will make three areas -- mental health, culture and enterprise -- his priorities if he gets to the Aras.

"I'm going to be a deeply serious president, but that doesn't mean there will no fun. There's no point in living if there is no fun!"

The straw Bloomsday hat is in the ring.

Over to you, Michael D.

Irish Independent

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