One of the most remarkable things about the race for the Irish Presidency is it’s lack of spark. This should not be too much of a surprise, when you consider that there wasn’t one seven years ago. When Mary McAleese announced she would run again, everyone else counted up the cost and the likelihood of winning, and said, “nah, not really…”
The piece of colour was Senator David Norris who crashed out early when hit by a second media storm over his plea to Israeli authorities over his ex partner Ezra Nawi’s conviction for statutory rape (Ie, having sex with a minor). He’s thought to be using an appearance on the Late Late Show tomorrow night to test the waters for a come back before nominations close in a week or two.
Okay, and there has been a welter of speculation (most of it no doubt will prove to have been unfounded) on whether or not Sinn Fein will have a dog in the race [with or without a collar? – Ed]. Last two days it’s been Martin McGuinness. Now it’s not. What’s dogging Sinn Fein is how to take advantage of Fianna Fail’s decision not to run an official candidate.
At least the guesses are getting a little more realistic, with Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin getting a few mentions in dispatches. Frankly, it’s not a job for a Nordie, and almost everyone of any profile in the south is required to man the parliamentary pumps. So the mystery remains.
Chipping votes from the FF quarter is crucial, not least when the FG dog, Gay Mitchell has a reputation for being an old unrepentent Blueshirt who’s appeal so far seems to be registering in inverse value to that of his parliamentary party. Perhaps Pat Cox should have been a contender?.
Michael D Higgins of Labour has been front running since Norris crashed, but this is not even lap two of the unofficial campaign, and he’s not so far ahead he could not be easily caught.
Sean Gallagher is, as they say, gene pool Fianna Fail. But it seems more keen to burnish his Dragon’s Den reputation for creativity and entrepreneurial ‘can do’… Despite having sat on that party’s National Executive, he has his own campaign team and regards even the slightest allusion to his party membership as an attempt to kill off his campaign.
Mary Davis who is thought to be almost home and hosed with regard to nominations, will also trade off her non political credentials having been Managing Director of Special Olympics in Europe/Eurasia. In fact Davis and Gallagher, as independents may enjoy a strong advantage in the latter stages of the election drawing in transfers from all over the country and the political piece.
Will FF get behind an independent corporately? Have SF got a ringer lined up? Will David Norris re-enter the race? And if so, could the maverick to end all mavericks sneak it at the very last?
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty