An implausible road to the Presidency…

One of the ‘stickiest’ stories of the last few years has been Sinn Fein’s ‘grand plan’ to progress sufficiently in the next install Gerry Adams as President of Ireland in 2012. Not everyone bought the line (Malcolm has something to say on it too). But a lot of people have. Some of the speculation undoubtedly arises from the fact that Adams now finds himself without office beyond his function as party President. Today in the Irish Times, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin dismisses it also:
Worldbystorm:

I have no doubt SF has – in it’s less grounded moments – pondered the idea that Adams might be elected President. But there’s many a slip between cup and lip. To get to that point would need a lot more than 12 TDs. Would in fact need… why 20 TDs and Senators. A figure that quite frankly is unbelievable as a realistic number today and was equally unbelievable in May of this year. And for all the talk of long term plans, which having come from a party with fairly utopian visions of its future, I don’t find quite as unbelievable I suspect that they might not have been quite as precise.

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  • URQUHART

    “Some of the speculation undoubtedly arises from the fact that Adams now finds himself without office beyond his function as party President”

    Perhaps he could busy himself representing the people of West Belfast and making progress on the highest levels of deprivation in the North? Just a crazy thought.

  • Dawkins

    There again, who ever thought Ian Paisley would one day be First Minister of Northern Ireland?

  • snakebrain

    Dawkins

    The difference is that Paisley always had a bedrock of support in the North. Adams and co. are viewed from the South as a bunch of leftist hangovers from a bygone era, with an unsavoury sideline in violence and destruction. It amuses me that they always assumed that once they’d “conquered” NI, the South would be a foregone conclusion.

    Reality check, Mr Adams.

  • Is it possible for someone to be President when technically they don’t recognise the office, given that it was created by an illegitimate and incomplete state formed under the Government of Ireland Act and the Treaty (as the provisional movement sees it)? Surely, according to provisional doctrine, the only body vested with the power to appoint anyone as President of Ireland is the provisional Army Council.

  • On a related note, I intend to become the next Emperor of Japan. I hope I can count on your support.

  • Chris MacAuley

    Isn’t the next presidential due in 2011, not 1212?

  • beard

    “Some of the speculation undoubtedly arises from the fact that Adams now finds himself without office beyond his function as party President”

    Other than Party President….. i believe that MLA and MP, counts as “office”. Although he does not sit at westminster, he represents west belfast as the MP in many other ways, through his office, similar to other MP’s.

  • Chris MacAuley

    Oops, the next presidential “election” in 2012. President Robinson was elected in 1990, President McAleese’s first term was 1997-2004. So surely we are due an election in November 2011?

  • Pres

    “The difference is that Paisley always had a bedrock of support in the North. Adams and co. are viewed from the South as a bunch of leftist hangovers from a bygone era, with an unsavoury sideline in violence and destruction. It amuses me that they always assumed that once they’d “conquered” NI, the South would be a foregone conclusion. ”

    Presidential elections in the south are not about political support, but more akin to a popularity contest. McAleese was the most popular candidate. Gerry Adams has been top of many popular polls, regardless of the exsisting SF support, over the last few years.

    Gerry for President… Why not??

  • Dawkins

    It’s a great job. I’d do it for nothing.

    Reckon I wouldn’t need a salary, what with a mortgage-free mansion, all the banquets I can stomach, and free vacations trips abroad, staying in the finest hotels.

    All it needs really is a diploma from the University of Arslikhan.

  • snakebrain

    Gerry for President… Why not??

    Where do you want me to start?

    Rhetorical question, I’m not getting into this one…

  • Dread Cthulhu

    URQUHART: “Perhaps he could busy himself representing the people of West Belfast and making progress on the highest levels of deprivation in the North? Just a crazy thought. ”

    Yeah, it is — your suggestion would require, like, y’know, work and hard work at that.

    El Matador: “Is it possible for someone to be President when technically they don’t recognise the office, given that it was created by an illegitimate and incomplete state formed under the Government of Ireland Act and the Treaty (as the provisional movement sees it)?”

    Sure, its possible… if there was a big enough payday (cash, power or prestige, either way) involved, I’m sure he’d take the job. Lot’s of politicians SAY alot of things in their pursuit of power and office… doesn’t mean they really mean them.

    Dawkins: “Reckon I wouldn’t need a salary, what with a mortgage-free mansion, all the banquets I can stomach, and free vacations trips abroad, staying in the finest hotels. :

    If you really want the job, you’re going to have to learn the terminology… when you take them they’re “fact-finding missions (please note, facts like to hide in the nicest of places…) and when your opposition does the same, they are “junkets,” although they do seem to end up in the same places that the facts are hid.

  • If Gerry won, it would leave him in charge of Óglaigh na hÉireann (again?). At least it would be the real one this time.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    El Matador: “If Gerry won, it would leave him in charge of Óglaigh na hÉireann (again?). At least it would be the real one this time. ”

    Yeah, but would the banquets and busy-work keep him out of trouble?

  • Two quick thoughts on this:

    1. I wish I had the perceptiveness and contacts enjoyed by Cedar Lounge.

    2. I think we can begin to look beyond this story. As my pale underling reported my views [http://redfellow.blogspot.com/2007/10/case-of-bearded-bar-tender-most.html]:
    The presidential poll is next up for grabs in 2011. Meanwhile, if the present Dáil runs its full term (and, provided the economics hold up, it won’t go quite that far) then Bertie Ahern has a job (tribunals permitting) until 2012.

    The cute wee hoor has already been there in post for a full decade, and in the Dáil for three times that time. At some point, he must get fed-up; and look for a quieter life, especially as he hits the big six-oh.

    At the same point, Fianna Fáil will need credible candidates for two job vacancies: An Taoiseach and Uachtarán na hÉireann. Particularly so, if Brian Cowan does not want to sit in the shadows for ever.

    So, Malcolm wonders, can anyone think of a suitable short-term tenant, perhaps someone with recent accommodation problems, and looking for a retirement home, for a rather fine property in the Phoenix Park?

  • middle-class ****

    Anyone in SF thinking this should remain part of the party’s strategy needs to have their head examined. Gerry would be tortured throughout the campaign by the whole spectrum of the convervative commentariat internationale (not to mention the pseudo-left commentariat). I’m not convinced he can be bothered with the aggravation any more.

    Moreover, he’d most likely lose. Probably to someone he detests. Not the way to bring his political career to an end, not that republicans are supposed to think of such things, of course….

    In any event, it’s a nonsense job. The only thing it’s been any use for in recent years has been reaching out to our unionist community. Gerry’d be a dab hand at that…

  • ulsterfan

    If offered he will refuse nomination.
    After all how could the one time socialist Lord Adams of Gortahurk explain to his followers in 2016 that there is not going to be a UI when he promised this.
    He will cut and run and take what is available and sit in the Lords.

  • Contributors to this thread will be inhibited if they lack access to the response (mentioned above) in today’s Irish Times. This gem of incisive political analysis and epitome of cliché-free original thinking is hidden behind the paper’s subscription wall. Here it is, in its full glory:

    The idea Sinn Féin wanted Gerry Adams as president is “absurd”, argues Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

    2007 has been a huge year for Sinn Féin and Irish republicans. We began with an historic decision in relation to policing in the Six Counties, secured the formation of a powersharing government with the DUP, fought the general election and saw the election of Pearse Doherty as the party’s first member of the Seanad.

    Of course there was disappointment in our ranks with the outcome of the general election. We were by no means alone in expecting an increased number of Sinn Féin TDs. But there are many positives for us to build upon. The actual number of votes Sinn Féin received increased by 22,371 and our vote was up in over a dozen constituencies.

    In places like Donegal North East, Donegal South West and Dublin Mid West there was a substantial increase in our support, bringing us very near to taking seats. And in my own constituency of Cavan-Monaghan we increased our percentage from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent and by over 2,000 first preference votes to 13,162, the sixth highest across all 43 constituencies.

    Over the last few month we went to communities the length and breadth of Ireland to talk and to listen. We don’t underestimate the tasks we face. We are drawing lessons from the election results and are in a process of reviewing, regrouping, reorganising and rebuilding. This will culminate in a major party conference in Dublin later this year.

    But all our plans are well advanced and already we have our sights fixed on the local government and EU elections of 2009.

    In relation to Ed Moloney’s claim (The Irish Times, October 10th) to have uncovered “an ambitious and highly secret plan” to get Gerry Adams elected as president of Ireland in 2011, I am sure many Sinn Féin members were much amused.

    The idea that our electoral strategy was based on a plan to get Adams into Áras an Uachtaráin is absurd. I am sure Adams would fulfil the role of Uachtaráin na hÉireann admirably but Sinn Féin is about achieving real political, social and economic progress on this island. We are not about simply electing our members to occupy high office for the sake of it.

    For the same reason, if the question of coalition with another party arises in the future, it will be judged simply on the basis of how much progressive change we can deliver and how we can enhance our political strength in order to increase the momentum towards a united Ireland of equals.

    We welcome the discovery of all-Ireland politics by other parties, including Fianna Fáil. We hope all parties follow our lead and organise throughout the island.

    We are very clear in our direction. We are for Irish re-unification. We are for a strong economy which can deliver the type of public services that are so badly needed. We are for prosperity with equality. And we have the type of innovative policies that are required to bring this about.

    We need to clearly explain how our policies will improve people’s lives and the lives of their communities. We need to prove that we can bring the same skill and determination to addressing social and economic challenges as we did in advancing the peace process.

    There is a huge need for leadership and for a real debate about the direction in which this State is going. The Fianna Fáil/PD legacy of failure has continued over the last summer. The health crisis continues. Aer Lingus — which should never have been privatised — is acting against the country’s structural interests.

    There are growing concerns at job losses in manufacturing and the construction industry. And there has been a complete failure to deal with serious drug and gun crime. This Government has returned to the Dáil totally ill-prepared for the work ahead.

    We intend to hold this Government to account every day of the week and put forward real alternatives. We will be launching key campaigns around job creation, healthcare and community safety. We will seek to build alliances both inside and outside Leinster House. We will be working with our Ministers in the Executive in the North and we will continue our work for Irish unity.

    Having led the process of change in the peace process we are determined to play an equally pivotal role in bringing about social and economic equality across this island and an all-Ireland republic worthy of the name.

    Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin is a Sinn Féin TD for Cavan-Monaghan and is the Party’s leader in the Dáil.

    [I think I have redered that with reasonable accuracy.]

  • Sorry, I was gnawing my wrist off with boredom when I got to “rendered”. E&OE.

  • Chris Donnelly

    Mick

    Would be interested in knowing who was selling this ‘sticky(?)’ line as it’s one I’ve never heard…

    In any case, Adams and most other nationalists would be far more interested in securing voting rights for Irish citizens in the six counties than simply replacing one northerner at the helm with another one. Regarding the central objective to republicans of Irish reunification, the latter would be considerably more important as it would ensure all southern political parties accelerated their plans for expansion into the six counties.

    I can see it now: Blueshirts on the Falls canvassing for John Bruton being met by Labour canvassers, no doubt promoting their latest celebrity candidate….

  • Turgon

    Well if by some miraculous chance Adams became President of Ireland what message do republicans think that would send to unionists? I doubt it would bring the border crashing down somehow. Or would Gerry march the Irish army north?

  • Dewi

    Malcolm – was it you who recommended “Rape and Plunder of the Shnakhill” ? …………Got to page 107 and there is no crime scene yet ! Seriously, interesting but not insightful into Unionist mindset – that big “Transformation” arrived today so I’ll try that this weekend….

  • Dewi

    Shnakill ? – Shankhill

  • Dewi @ 10:38 PM:

    Nah, not I, said the sparrer … But I do recall the reference.

    I admit I have an antipathy to that type of book. I instantly suspect special pleading, on cheap paper, with too many typos for comfort, and not enough corroboration or references.

    Quite frankly, the Unionist mindset … well, I married it forty years back, and am still in the wrong on a daily basis.

  • Dewi

    McGuiness – Guns to Government pretty disappointing also…but did manage to pick up chap Robert Kee’s Green Flag – I know it’s old but a gripping style – that’s what gets you – a history book that reads like a novel. Highly recommend John Davies’s History of Wales in a similar genre…..As for Gerry for President – I reckon Osama Bin McAllister would have a better chance….

  • Turgon

    Dewi,
    Since some have appointed me Allister’s henchman in chief on this site can I stand?

  • dewi

    You certainly have the charm! Dawkins can work on your image and I,ll write your leaflets.Need a good slogan…

  • Turgon

    How about Back to the caves of Ballymenastan? Like back to basics but with an extra lunatic edge. I am sure someone can translate it into Irish and then my victory will be certain.

  • parci

    Turgon you’ll have to grow a beard to represent the taliban wing of unionism.
    Would her indoors approve? 🙂

  • dewi

    Hmmm I think we would have to reach out- how about “tough on intolerance – tough on the causes of intolerance”
    It’s late and I’m on blackberry but I reckon we could do this – Elenwe any good with foreign dignatiries?

  • Turgon

    parci,
    Beards, I think they would be too itchy for me. Elenwe bans bow ties (appalling bigotry I know) do not know about beards.

    Dewi,
    Elenwe might be okay with foreign dignatiries. I would keep forgetting their names and I speak no useful foreign languages.

    I feel we should probably stop this and go to bed as I think we are in danger of wasting Mick’s bandwidth even more than usual.

  • dewi

    Yeah – Nos da (a more useful use of bandwidth than many of the recent threads)

  • Ian

    “I have no doubt SF has – in it’s less grounded moments – pondered the idea that Adams might be elected President. But there’s many a slip between cup and lip. To get to that point would need a lot more than 12 TDs. Would in fact need… why 20 TDs and Senators. A figure that quite frankly is unbelievable as a realistic number today and was equally unbelievable in May of this year.”

    This ignores the fact that, if SF [i]had[/i] won enough seats in May (at the expense of FF and their current coalition partners) and if they therefore had become the kingmaker party in the south, then they could have pressed for reform to the system for nominating to the Presidency as a condition for entering into coalition with Bertie (who clearly would have jumped into bed with SF [i]if he’d had to[/i], despite his denials).

    There’s a case to be made that, under the GFA, northern nationalists (and for that matter unionists if they so choose) are entitled to representation in the Republic’s political system. Hence the call (by the SDLP and not just SF, by the way) for MLA’s to have certain speaking rights in the Dail, and for northern voters to be able to vote in the Presidential elections.

    A logical extension of that would be that MLA’s should count towards the 20 nominations needed to put forward a Presidential candidate. SF would therefore potentially have 32 (28 MLA’s plus 4 TD’s) signatures for President Adams.

    Also, I don’t believe an attempt for the Presidency by Adams would have been merely an ego trip; rather it could be seen as part of the grand strategy for Irish unity.

    If all the citizens of Norn Iron were entitled to vote in the Presidential election, and if Adams were running, a sizeable number of Unionists may well vote against him. By doing so, they would have subconsciously been drawn into the political affairs of the Irish Republic.

  • páid

    “So, Malcolm wonders, can anyone think of a suitable short-term tenant, perhaps someone with recent accommodation problems, and looking for a retirement home, for a rather fine property in the Phoenix Park?”

    No accommodation problems Malc, but the face that fits belongs to …….. Emily O’Reilly.

  • barnshee

    “There’s a case to be made that, under the GFA, northern nationalists (and for that matter unionists if they so choose) are entitled to representation in the Republic’s political system”

    Er well as far as republicans– do what every you want but unionist !!!!! How out of touch can you be ( stick flag language and political system where the sun don`t shine)

  • Dan

    El Matador,

    “…Surely, according to provisional doctrine, the only body vested with the power to appoint anyone as President of Ireland is the provisional Army Council.”

    I think PSF gave that up some time ago. IIRC, only Republican Sinn Féin and the Continuity IRA still hold on to that absurd idea.

  • agh

    by 2012, I’m sure the Queen will have a wee holiday home in Dublin. How funny would it be to see Gerry giving her a tour around the great city. Priceless.

  • BonarLaw

    agh

    “by 2012, I’m sure the Queen will have a wee holiday home in Dublin”

    That would be the Viceregal Lodge then?

  • Dawkins

    Dewi,

    “You certainly have the charm! Dawkins can work on your image and I,ll write your leaflets.Need a good slogan…”

    You’re confusing me again, mate. You waste my time by having me do this one. Now you want one of Turgon.

    I don’t know what the chap looks like. I’ve never seen an elf, let alone an elven king :0)

    Malcolm,

    Many thanks for posting the full Irish Times text. Gives me a fuller understanding of the situation.

  • Dewi

    That is brilliant you know Dawkins….he has to change his name though: Osama bin Allister a syllable short…..

    Can’t wait until your 2008 calandar………as for Turgon I’m still working on a decent slogan !

  • páid @ 02:39 AM:

    The gorgeous Emily? Nice thought. It assumes an all-party, non-doctrinal approach to the Presidency. It also suggests another reason for spannering Gerry’s works at an early stage.

    In general:

    My mind keeps nibbling at Moloney’s original article, and wondering: Why? Why now?

    Then, Ó Caoláin’s response was so vapid, and only a bare couple of sentences in the middle of his piece in semi-rebuttal. It was introverted to a psychotic degree: where’s the third thread, Ireland’s (or the Irelands’) place in a wider scheme of things (a single passing mention of Euro 2009)?

    The impression came across that the bhoys down South are short of imagination, and very much at a loose end. Is it that the top-dogs are so entranced with the levers of ‘power’ that they are losing the thread?

    But, spluttering as I am with this head cold, what do I know?

  • Ian of post number 8, I don’t – I hope – ignore that fact, I simply dismiss it. In discussion with Labour people who should know, it was very clear to me that despite their alliance with Fine Gael if the numbers came out right they would do the deal with FF and the feeling was mutual. FF asserted on numerous occasions prior to the election they would not deal with SF. And why would they? SF largely but not exclusively in the South depends upon elements of a left vote (ironically in part a former Democratic Left/WP vote), assorted and sundry leftists of whatever stripe, some middle class Republicans, a more ‘conservative’ rural Republican vote and the urban working class. This latter is in direct competition with FF in a way, that curiously Labour is not. In retrospect the objective of FF has been to cut away the SF vote there as best it can, and quite successfully it would appear – since SF now has 3 seats in largely rural constituencies and only one in Dublin. Of course what works in one election may not in another. I suspect we will see a larger number of SF TDs elected next time out (particularly when Ahern leaves the stage and if a non-Dublin leader is elected).

    FWIW I actually largely agree with everything else you say.

  • páid

    Malcolm,

    “The gorgeous Emily? Nice thought. It assumes an all-party, non-doctrinal approach to the Presidency”

    Actually she’s a FFer with potential for broader appeal. Well respected and loads of contacts in the media, rightish on social issues (dubious about divorce), blonde, ambitious, and great CV as Ombudsman.

    Watch this space.

  • dewi

    I think I’ve got Turgon’s slogan –
    For Ireland itself – for Ireland it’s Elf!

    Running it past the focus group…

  • Dawkins

    Dewi,

    Shell Ireland ain’t gonna like that. Isn’t Elf a French brand of petrol? :0)

  • dewi

    I’ve made a deal with Elf to contribute half a million Euros – the condition was that my focus groups were in Brittany _ not perfect I know but you just have to work with what you got – any advice?

  • Dawkins

    Dewi,

    You’re really serious about all this, aren’t you?

    I like to see that kind of Enterprise. Oh wait, that name’s taken too.

  • dewi

    Just we need a unique selling point – enough for tonight nos da