Saturday 18 November 2017

Race for the Park brings out the 'voice of dark age'

The controversy over David Norris suggests Irish politics is not as liberal as claimed, writes John-Paul McCarthy

IN the 73 years of its existence, the Irish presidency has generated three basic kinds of debates: the trivial, the grave, and the abhorrent.

Any list of the trivial ones would have to include the doubts expressed in 1937 about whether poor old Douglas Hyde could live up to Fianna Fail's hopes that his inauguration would close a wound that existed "since the undoing of our nation at Kinsale".

The presidency has inspired graver debates than this, of course, especially during the Arms Trial in 1970 when many of Jack Lynch's supporters privately hoped that President de Valera would use the office to break the Haughey-Blaney conspiracy sub rosa. And though we still cannot say for sure what exactly de Valera did in 1969, it's likely that he summoned Lynch to the Aras to advise him more constructively than Lemass did.

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