As David Norris's candidature apparently bites the dust, it's surely time to create a new consensus on the Presidency. There's no point in anyone trying to compete with President McAleese, or her predecessor.
Moreover, one has to be aged over 30 years to remember a time when we didn't have a female president. So we should review the job requirements, before the Aras irrevocably becomes the Ovary Office.
The primary stipulation is that, henceforth, empathy is banned. I was on a radio programme by phone with the presidential candidate Fergus Finlay some time ago, and he was limbering up like billy-oh for the great Aras steeplechase. Indeed, he oozed so much empathy that it was like being at the receiving end of the overflow pipe in the Tate & Lyle Golden Syrup factory the night the foreman went mad. Warm compassion for everyone slid glutinously through the telephone line, poured out of my earpiece, and soon filled my study. You could have fed it to bees.
Then the word "teachers" was mentioned, and he promptly went into empathy-overdrive, exuding an absolute ocean of reverential glucose, which probably got every teacher listening roaring with approval, their eyes glowing feverishly in the amber torchlight of his high regard.
I, meanwhile, donned the Ryanair lifejacket (which that nice Michael O'Leary sold me, as I scrambled off the wing of his Vickers Vimy into the Irish Sea) and was borne away on a tidal wave of honeyed mucous.
Now we simply can't have an endless competition in saccharine-production every time we want a new President, or otherwise diabetes will became an occupational hazard of the Park, rather like army deafness, miner's phthisis or housemaid's knee. What we need henceforth amongst future presidential candidates is not so much Tate & Lyle as Hate & Bile. I myself would nominate the aforesaid Mr O'Leary as my personal presidential candidate, though I fear that within his first morning he probably would have gravely insulted the King of Peru. By nightfall we would also be at war with Tibet, with that nice little chap, the Dalai Lama, performing an indignant haka on the front lawn of the Aras, like a very angry Maori looking for New Zealand back.
That notwithstanding, here is a good rule of thumb. Presidential candidates who intend to put the poor; the deprived; the hungry; the emaciated; the marginalised; Travellers; immigrants; the disabled; lesbians; single mothers, et cetera, in the forefront of their campaign will be shot by firing squad at the Papal Cross. Any presidential candidate who even mentions the word "inclusive" will be subjected to a very public colonic irrigation by sniggering teenagers of the opposite sex. Any candidate who uses the term "outreach" will be bound and gagged, dipped in offal and tossed into the alligator pit in Dublin Zoo. Any candidate who offers to light a candle for any reason other than to go looking for a gas leak in the Aras will be skinned alive, rolled in salt, and roasted over hot coals. Is that clear?
As I say, we've had two fine presidents who've changed the nature of the office for the better: but that's enough for a generation or so, I think. What we want now is a little less Mary and rather more hairy. We need a male, rather like the old days, when the Park was the state-funded retirement home for bewildered old gents who couldn't find their own way unaided to the Dail, so were given an office next to their bedroom, and it was called the Aras. Sometimes, the more literary of these elderly coves would fret whether or not Hamlet was going to stab them through it. But a couple of spoons of Night Nurse before an early bed, and after a refreshing little nap of 14 hours or so, they'd be at the top of their form again, ready for some golf or maybe even a chocolate digestive, and a cup of warm milk.
Alas, for some reason, we no longer have the octogenarians of yesteryear to wheel into the Park. Yet we still need a respected male figure. So who better than Ciaran Fitzgerald, the legendary rugby captain who inspired a very mediocre team to a Triple Crown triumph with his ringing words: "Where's your f*^#ing pride?"
We don't need much more than that from any President for the foreseeable future: indeed, we don't even need the man himself, who is still too young. So why shouldn't we have half a dozen rugby-battered manikin-models of Fitzgerald, each with an ear hanging loose and some teeth missing and a pull chord in the back, to perform the job as President? They could appear in several places at the same time -- The Loreto Rathfarnham Lap-Dancing Prizegiving, The Dip in the Nip at the Shrine at Knock, the Moriarty Tribunal Module investigating the Defenestration of Prague. Just pull the chord, and each model could bellow: "Where's your f*^#ing pride?" -- prompting tearful uproar, bursting chests and some joyous tears.
An Irish solution to an Irish presidential problem, and entirely lacking -- finally -- in either empathy, compassion or outreach. The way to go!