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Candidates could still surprise us

WE go the polls next Thursday after what has been, by any standards, a remarkable presidential election campaign.

It is, despite the poll predictions, an unpredictable contest.

And may yet produce more controversies.

For many, it has been a welcome diversion from austerity plans and bank bailouts.

But who we choose to be our president for the next seven years will have a profound effect on Ireland's image abroad.

The campaign, with a widely diverse range of candidates, has seen allegations of dirty tricks and hidden party allegiances.

It is all good for democracy and has spurred animated debate right across our Republic.

Now, with just five days left to go, we could still be in for some surprise twists and turns before our new president is elected.