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16 September 2004 Edition

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A President for some

With serious political, social and economic problems facing the nation, a focus on a bland and boring election campaign to a bland and boring institution is just what Fianna Fáil are hoping for in the aftermath of their worst election result since the 1920s.

The coverage devoted to the Presidency and the possibility of an election is out of all proportion both to the political importance of the institution itself and the issues at stake. While the Government thrashes around ineptly, the housing crisis spirals out of control and our per-head primary education spending is exposed as well below the OECD average, the media elevate the Presidency to a key political battleground when it is nothing of the sort.

If an election does take place however, there are really only two certainties. The first, that Mary McAleese will be re-elected. Fianna Fáil will seek to claim an implicit election victory but would be totally dishonest to do so as McAleese has won widespread support across party lines. The second certainty is that hundreds of thousands of Irish citizens living in the Six Counties will be denied their right to vote to choose their President.

Dana, Eamon Ryan and Michael D Higgins would render the people a far greater service by campaigning for an end to this discrimination and for the extension of voting rights north of the border than by contesting what many regard as an unnecessary election.

Hopefully the next Presidential election in 2011 will allow the Irish people to elect a President for all, and not just for some.

An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1