Tuesday 16 January 2018

Bruce Arnold: Latest Fianna Fail stroke backfires badly on Martin

Bruce Arnold

A friend and well-wisher sent me an email on the announcement by Gay Byrne that he was withdrawing from the presidential race. It contained the comment: "Irish people have been deprived of a chance to show their stupidity." Apart from adding to the end of this the word "again", it seemed a good enough summary of the circumstances to date.

I thought we had run the full course of summer madness about the presidential election with David Norris, but clearly the appetite for savaging our own intelligence and judgment was by no means exhausted by the first run at it, and a second fell into the public lap with the invitation to Byrne from Micheal Martin to run for president. It was a typical Fianna Fail stroke, one that has back-fired badly on Martin.

Gay crawls out of the debris battered but not seriously hurt, wiser about himself as we are about him. He has a rubbery self-confidence, a wise and protective wife, a loving family, and he enjoys enough genuine public respect to go on as before. Being president would have been a huge burden, difficult, taxing and more confused in its challenges than ever before. Campaigning would have exposed him to unwelcome intrusion into the whole of his life.

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