Thursday 22 February 2018

Nomination rules must be changed

Ever since the office of President of Ireland was created, the incumbents have maintained its dignity and independence and done the country credit. But that splendid record has been tarnished in the course of the present election campaign, and the nomination process has become dismayingly like a farce.

At the heart of the problem is the process itself and its core provision. In order to obtain a nomination, a candidate must have the support of 20 Oireachtas members or four city or county councils. This was always flawed, because it was blatantly designed to favour the political establishment, but on this occasion the flaws have been shown up in a different and much more worrying manner.

Only the Labour Party and Sinn Fein picked their candidates smoothly. Labour did so in a quasi-democratic manner, Sinn Fein with the barest pretence of democracy. The nomination of Martin McGuinness was, in short, a stroke.

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