A little bit delayed, but i’ve been meaning to shout about this for quite some time now. Unfortunately I got distracted by – in no particular order – heavy workload, heavy drinking, Just Cause 2, and the whole Palestinian statehood fiasco (on which I will not be commenting around these parts while sober). Before I get into the current, rapidly expanding list of the candidates in play, here’s a little background info that many aren’t still aware of and should understand in order to make sense of the last 6 months of irish current events. Here’s a short run-down on how to become President of Ireland.
STEP ONE – ELIGIBILITY
Are you 35 years old or more? Are you a citizen of the Republic of Ireland? Reckon you can pull in a million odd votes? Would you like to stomp up the red carpet during Six Nations games and smile for the camera while whispering in the ear of the visiting captain “Paul O Connell’s going to step on your head” ? Don’t fancy paying rent? Got seven (or 14 if you’re lucky) years to kill? GOOD NEWS! You qualify to be President of Ireland, Uachtar Reoite na hEirinn, Caitlin ni Houlihan’s favourite daughter, an chead barra seaclaide isteach an Aras (NOTE – Have been warned to stop taking the piss out of the cupla focail in the past by my gaelgeoir partner in crime, probably for the best).
Common misconceptions about eligibility – You don’t have to be called Mary, you don’t need to be nominated by one of the “big three” political parties, you don’t even need a past in politics.
Well done! Through to the next round, which is everyone’s favourite year-long gameshow…
STEP TWO – NOMINATION
Wuh-oh, here we go. Those of you who read the above paragraph will have realised that a metric fuckton of people are eligible to put themselves forward. Luckily, this being a democratic republic and all, we have a system for nominating people, right? To make sure we don’t end up with frivolous fringe candidates that have absolutely no popular appeal and are really just wasting everyone’s time, right? Wait, who the fuck is Rosemary Scallon?
Nope. Up until the 1990 election it was a simple case of “Fianna Fail pick one, Fine Gael pick one, Labour pick one, the guy with the closest connection to the 1916 rising wins”. Then Dana found an old , unused caveat to the selection system, meaning that all you need is the support of 4 county/city councils by majority vote. WOO WOO!!! PARTY TIME EVERYONE! So here’s the ways to be nominated and put on the ballot
- Nominate yourself (if you’ve already been elected President and haven’t served two terms)
- Be nominated by 20 TDs or Senators. It doesn’t matter which party they’re from, or if they’re from mixed parties, or you have 10 TDs and 10 senators, it’s all pretty flexible. This means that the larger parties can all pick a horse. Currently that’s Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Fein and Fianna Fail that can just pick a name and throw them on the paper. Labour have gone with Michael D Higgins, Fine Gael have picked Gay Mitchell, and Sinn Fein have picked Martin McGuinness. Fianna Fail can’t agree on picking their collective parliamentary nose at the moment but have already ruled out Brian Crowley, Eamon O Cuiv, and Gay “areyoufuckingserious” Byrne.
- Nomination by 4 county / city councils. This is how Dana got on the ballot in 1997 and more importantly why we can now have about 30 people run.
- Michael D Higgins (Labour party candidate, 36%)
- Gay Mitchell (Fine Gael party candidate, 24%)
- Sean Gallagher (nominated by Cork city, Leitrim, Meath and Clare councils, 21%. “No party affiliation”, but was on the Fianna Fail executive council. Oh, and he’s that bald guy from Dragon’s Den. Go democracy)
- Mary Davis (nominated by Kerry, Limerick, Louth, Mayo, Monaghan and Tipperary North councils, 19%. Mostly involved in the Special Olympics)
- Martin McGuinness (Sinn Fein party candidate, I haven’t seen polling info for him yet)