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Woman's place is still in the Aras -- poll

No men need apply for the presidency in 2011, according to a Sunday Independent poll which shows the electorate favours another woman in the Aras.

Ombudsman Emily O'Reilly polled surprisingly well at 18 per cent, according to the Quantum Research/Sunday Independent telephone poll. Mairead McGuinness was second placed at 13 per cent.

Though neither have declared that they would seek a nomination Ms McGuinness has accepted that her name has been "mixed around the pot".

"I haven't put my name forward and I haven't even had any discussions about this," she said. "Given that my name is being mixed around in the pot, I'm either going to have to live with it in the pot or do something about it.

"It's a bit of an honour that people would think you'd be able for it. We haven't had a round-table on it at home, although they do kind of look at me when it's in the papers and wonder, 'What is she up to now'," she said in a recent interview.

Bertie Ahern interview page 24

The poll showed that, two years ahead of the presidential vote, there is still an open-minded electorate with 30 per cent preferring "anybody else" when given a list of six candidates.

Former journalist Ms O'Reilly and MEP Ms McGuinness lead the field followed by George Lee (12 per cent), Brian Crowley (10 per cent), Bertie Ahern (9 per cent) and Pat Rabbitte (8 per cent)

There was a good degree of hostility expressed at the idea of any politician being given the post. A significant number of people now feel that the position of president is a waste of money and that it should be abolished.

And even though Bertie Ahern received some support (nine per cent) many respondents were extremely hostile to the idea of him assuming the office of president.

George Lee came third on 12 per cent, but even those who supported him believed his talents were better suited to a more active role in politics. Brian Crowley polled well, gaining 10 per cent, although a significant number of respondents strongly expressed they were opposed to any Fianna Fail appointee, no matter who they were.

Some names which came up as alternative choices were former president of the EU Parliament Pat Cox, ex-attorney general Peter Sutherland, former Fine Gael leader Alan Dukes, Senator David Norris and Bob Geldof.

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