Saturday 24 March 2018

Medb Ruane: It's so hard to get excited about the presidency -- although David might perk up the Park a little bit

Stately: President Mary McAleese speaking
at the IDA annual conference.
Stately: President Mary McAleese speaking at the IDA annual conference.

President McAleese said graciously that David Harvey's burst of affection was okay -- the chairman of the St Patrick's Day Festival kissed both her cheeks when he greeted her officially at the parade. But it wasn't really okay, when you thought about it. The over-familiarity showed a real forgetting about what a President's status should mean.

What could you expect after 14 years? Mrs McAleese is unfortunately part of the national furniture, probably because she's held office for so long. Bertie Ahern's rise to power coincided with her FF nomination and election by the people in 1997. When the term expired in 2004, the various political parties just weren't bothered to change the deckchairs. You can read that as a sign of their collective inertia about even the smallest political reform.

Is the Presidency worth fighting for -- or is changing Presidents more like changing Ireland's Facebook pic? The office is as jaded as the Constitution that established it. A head of state is needed legally, and symbolically to a degree, but there's a party-political silence about renewal by either eliminating the post or dragging it into the third millennium.

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