A people’s president in a time of crisis

Published on 31 October 2011 at 11:57


Having secured the support of over a million voters to become the ninth President of Ireland, as the headline in Saturday’s Irish Times points out, Michael D. Higgins pledged to be a “president for all people”, and announced his immediate resignation from the Labour Party.

In the Irish Independent, columnist Brendan Keenan wonders about the awkwardness of this situation: “Now, he will be the people's chosen representative, but muzzled by the constitution he embodies while all kinds of things happen with which he is bound to disagree profoundly. Can anything be done, before he boils over in frustration or, worse, sinks into embittered silence?”

Nonetheless, Keenan concludes that the new president could play valuable role in selling government policy to the people. “The most difficult thing for the Government is to stitch together into something which can be presented as a strategy, the conflicting threads of reducing borrowing, protecting the most vulnerable, promoting exports and investment, and meeting the requirements of our lenders — whether troika or the markets.”

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