Tuesday 18 September 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: Presidential hopefuls are being attacked for daring to stand at all

Just because Michael D Higgins enjoys such huge support in the polls is no reason to belittle his rivals, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy Photo: Lorraine Teevan
Presidential hopeful Gavin Duffy Photo: Lorraine Teevan

Eilis O'Hanlon

Imagine that Gavin Duffy's presidential campaign was a pitch on Dragons' Den. "So you're going to remortgage your house to raise a €750,000 loan to fund an enterprise with an almost zero chance of success? Er, I'm out."

Of course, the entrepreneur mustn't think it's hopeless, or he wouldn't be willing to sacrifice so much in pursuit of it. He must believe he has a fighting chance of celebrating Christmas in the Aras. "I'm proceeding with this with conviction," is how Duffy himself puts it, and, as his former producer on the RTE One television show says, everyone in politics needs a healthy ego to survive. There's nothing wrong with self-belief.

Realistically, though, it's an outside shot. Polls show that Michael D Higgins enjoys the support of some two-thirds of the electorate. It's not a fair or equal fight; the Galway man has a huge platform, practically universal and slavish media support, and the advantage of incumbency. De Valera came within a whisker of losing in 1966, but no sitting president has been booted out of office.

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