Isn’t it time for us to have a president with a disability?

Let’s use the symbolism of the office of president to usher in the last great civil rights revolution


SYMBOLIC ROLE: President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina. Photo: Tony Gavin
SYMBOLIC ROLE: President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina. Photo: Tony Gavin

Finian McGrath floated a brilliant idea last week. He was out talking about the presidency on a few occasions. Obviously he said the usual guff that everyone has to say about how amazing Michael D is and what a fantastic job he has done. You are contractually obliged to say that if you are going to go on to suggest that Michael D shouldn’t be the president for 14 years. McGrath went on, in various places, to say that actually even seven years is a long time to be president, that five years would be enough, and furthermore that it would be “boring and stale” to put Michael D back in without an election. He said we should consider someone young to be president, and then he mentioned that he has, in the course of his work as Minister for Disabilities, met many fantastic people with disabilities who would make excellent candidates for president.

And it made you realise that we shouldn’t discriminate against good ideas just because they come from Finian McGrath. He can be a bit flaky, but he seems to be a fundamentally decent person. And with this one, he might just have stumbled into a genius idea.

It is taken for granted right now that, in the presidential election scheduled for October, it seems increasingly likely that Michael D will romp home. All the significant political parties bar Sinn Fein are backing him, with Fine Gael apparently even committing to spend money on a campaign for him, maybe even posters and leaflets. Fianna Fail will be backing him in a more passive way, and of course, given that he is originally a Labour candidate, Labour are behind him, even if Leo is slightly stealing their clothes on him this time. Fine Gael like to back a winner, anything that helps brand Leo and Brand FG. So they are essentially lifting the proven brand that is Michael D from Labour and making him their own.

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