| 15.8°C Dublin

O Muircheartaigh would be on the ball in the Aras

MANY hats are being thrown into the ring with regard to the next President of Ireland, but let's be honest, few ignited much passion. We're not interested in former politicians or political advisers, unless they have a vision to offer and something very special as a person.

No one to date has offered much vision, no one is very Presidential.

But yesterday, President McAleese paid tribute to a rare breed, a type that would be an obvious choice for the office -- none other than Micheal O Muircheartaigh.

As he announces his retirement, a plethora of genuine tributes are being paid to the man so well rounded in his life experience and full of worthy values and wisdom, that he would be an excellent President of Ireland.


It's neither a populist nor sentimental idea. I'm no big GAA fan: I don't know Micheal personally and would only tune into him for the All-Ireland quarter finals.

No, this is about experience, values and depth, something we should demand in a President. He is a teacher and a listener. He has travelled the length and the breadth of the country to talk to people and listen to them, almost like it was his job or ministry. They are his friends. He loves the Irish language, loves sport with a passionate intensity that is exhilarating to all.

As a Kerryman, he would have the shrewdness needed for public office but also the gentleness of the true country gentleman who is also at home among city folk.

Public speaking wouldn't be a problem; his voice is instantly recognisable and he can tell a story, using words to paint pictures and he was reaching out to the Diaspora long before Mary Robinson lit a candle in the window of the Aras.

He has other values too that are vital -- a deep knowledge and respect for Irish history, a reference point for a society that feels cut adrift from modern institutions whether they be political, economical or religious.

He is a man who doesn't drink but is comfortable among drinkers with his immense social skills and networking abilities. He represents what is best in the Christian tradition in Ireland but is not known for wearing it on his sleeve.

He may be 80, but he is fit for his age. Pope Benedict leads a very hectic public life at the less tender age of 82. The queen is also 82 and likely to carry on a while yet.

Micheal is intelligent and gentle of spirit. He has a wonderful wit and sense of fun and God knows we need to laugh in this country if we are going to make it at all.

For my money, Micheal O is definitively best in show.