Monday, October 31, 2011

All Kinds of everything remind me of..... A presidential campaign??!

Only in Ireland!

Seven candidates vying for the nation’s vote in the imminent presidential election and the media (Not Martin Mc Guinness) intent on causing as much carnage and ruination to the names of each candidate. Never has a presidential campaign been so bloody.

Was I one of the few who had wrongly hoped for a campaign where at least one candidate could offer a glimmer of hope for the country and an ounce of inspiration? It appears so! (Ah, naivety – a trait many young graduates are susceptible to!)
No matter how often I tune into their live debates, and plod through the newspapers columns they have become a temporary fixture in, and sift through the numerous leaflets that fill my letterbox, have I reached a decision?

In a desperate bid to make an informative decision, a review of each candidate may aid in the decision making process (i.e. a most definite process of elimination!).

Dana Rosemary Scallon
A Eurovision sensation (Bearing in mind Jedward are too!!), a former presidential candidate (14 years ago – yet she still needs to bring a copy of the constitution to most live debates... if it doesn’t go in once Dana.....), and a campaign which has been marred by ‘vile allegations’ were levelled against a family member, and a car which suffered a tyre blowout which was an attempt to injure or murder herself or her family (The possibility of driving a flat tyre springs to mind?). Whilst funding the campaign was a struggle, the shortage of countrywide campaign posters were compensated for by a plethora of attempts at remaining in the headlines. During one of the presidential debates, when asked by Ryan Tubridy if she would refuse to sign any bill threatening Bunreacht na h√Čireann she responded ‘You bet your boots I would’. A fitting time to allude to the fact that the President doesn’t have such a veto power, and may only refer a Bill to the Council of State for its consideration. Subsequent to this statement, when featured on Newstalk’s the ‘The Right Hook’, Dana made it clear to all that she was not anti-Europe. ‘I am not anti Europe. I have always said that Europe, the concept of Europe is good. We want to be in Europe’. Could someone maybe mention to Dana that we are ALREADY in Europe when they spot her on the campaign trail??

Conclusion: Like her tyre, Dana’s campaign has been a complete blowout (and when you don’t get enough votes, please don’t ask the Garda√≠ to investigate this one!).

Mary Davis
Special Olympics or Special K? The red attire donned by Mary Davis in her presidential campaign posters has undoubtedly confused the nation. Whilst no one should ever deter her contributions to Special Olympics Ireland, the media (and indeed the nation) instead deterred the poster campaign which afforded itself a debate of its own surrounding ‘airbrushing’. Another issue for contention was the fact that Denis O’Brien had contributed €2,500 to her campaign (obviously a fan of Special K!). A campaign which boasted the maxim ‘Pride at home. Respect abroad’ – a feeble attempt to possibly inspire the nation no doubt or to increase the Special K sales at home and abroad, we’re still unsure!

Conclusion: Reminded us if the anti-wrinkle cream doesn’t work, airbrushing most definitely will!

Gay Mitchell
Who now? A voice which was dwarfed and trampled on during the course of this debate, and furthermore a voice which whines for airtime – on the real issues, the real issues he’s raised, suicide being the one example he prefers to remind us of. Quite frankly Mitchell is both boring and forgettable, neither a trait befitting that of a future president. A little hot headed when frustrated, as evident from his response to Pat Kenny during Monday night’s Frontline debate "I don’t think people are getting an opportunity to hear what the presidency is about . . . what is the relevance of that question? [concerning suitability of Denis O’Brien to sit on Council of State] . . . ask us about the presidency" (Otherwise interpreted as – ‘Pat, I’ve learned my script for tonight’s debate – and I want to stick to it, I can’t think on my feet!’).

Conclusion: If his name wasn’t on the ballot paper, not many would notice! Enough said!

Martin McGuiness
As a former member of the IRA there is reason to disclose the skeletons in Mr McGuiness’ closet. Would he admit that as former member of the IRA he once had a blood on his hands? When questioned if those who were killed were ‘murder victims’, McGuinness of this said whilst he ‘regrets’ that the deaths happened, he neither agrees nor disagrees that these deaths should be coined ‘murders’. Despite wanting to focus on his efforts made towards ‘peace and reconciliation’ – he seems intent on damaging Sean Gallagher’s campaign in any way possible. Also willing to sacrifice a substantial portion of his salary as president and to utilise the surplus by employing several young people – why do I not believe this?!

Conclusion: Guilty of attempting to ‘murder’ Sean Gallagher’s presidential campaign!

David Norris
Trinity’s eccentric academic. The initial front runner, but was forced to drop out of the race following the emergence of his past, the writing of a letters to defend the name of his former partner, who was in trial for the rape of a minor. But despite this, the public (or in my opinion the media!) did everything to get him back in the race, and that they did. He re-entered the campaign to be ridiculed further by the media. Another major scoop - Whilst a senator in the Seanad it appears that Norris at the same time was claiming disability allowance for a period of 16 years. It appears along the way Norris lost his way; his extremely opinionated nature would merely serve to hamper his own campaign.

Conclusion: The headed paper from in the Aras will remain safe (for now!)!! Here, here!!

And so the campaign narrows.... The two horse race!

Sean Gallagher
Ireland’s Dragon, entrepreneur, and the one candidate with youth on his side, possibility for a new and modernised Europe? One small problem – his links with Fianna Fail! Surely the Irish nation had learned from past mistakes! Whilst the cool headed Gallagher breezed through the campaign initially he took the lead from Michael D. Sailing through debates and the campaign trail with an open minded and level minded temperament. As his popularity rose in the polls – out came the claws (courtesy of the other candidates!). The final debate on RTE’s Frontline signalled his demise. Sinn Fein had done their homework and were happy to cause as much carnage as is possible. It surfaced that Gallagher had greater involvement with the Fianna Fail party than he’d led us to believe. As the collection of ‘brown envelopes’ emerged, and his association with FF fundraisers, we could only watch the debate and squirm for Gallagher. The classic (FF) faux pas – lies!! An entangled web of lies – It seems Gallagher couldn’t be certain whether or not he collected 5000€ in a brown envelop from a certain businessman for FF. This was the final blow for Gallagher and a hay day for the media! No one wants a liar in the Aras – admission of his links with FF and the fact that he had become disillusioned by their antics in the past few years would have rectified this one!

Conclusion: Honesty is the best policy.... unless of course FF and brown envelopes are involved!!

Michael D Higgins
He has everything on side bar his age! A campaigner, poet and politician. Michael D has undoubtedly the top CV of the line up – Mayor of Galway, President of the European Council of Culture Ministers, and as the country’s first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht, established TG4, and has been at the forefront of campaigns for progressive change on equal pay for women, access to contraception, divorce, the rights of people with disabilities and a plethora of other issues, and was also awarded the first Sean McBride International Peace Prize by the Zurich based International Peace Bureau in recognition of his international human rights work. Coupled with a glowing CV and a hunger to be president at the ripe old age of 77, he has a charismatic and infectious personality – adding some comedic value to many of the presidential debates whilst tackling issues of significance. He hasn’t set a foot wrong during the campaign, and is the best orator in the line up.

Conclusion: Michael D will be the last one standing – even if it is on a box!

In summation, as far as a process of elimination goes – Michael D will surely be on the Aras very soon, partly because of his career to date, but partly because no one better put their name forward for the 2011 presidential campaign (there are other’s out there!).

I was reminded recently that ‘setbacks pave the way for comebacks’. One can merely hope for a speedy seven years, and one hell of a comeback to be made by the subsequent president.

‘Setbacks do pave the way for comebacks’ and the outcome of the 2011 presidential campaign in my eyes will signal another setback for Ireland. But alas, I’m waiting for the comeback kid..... Unless Michael D can of course prove me wrong (and you know what, for the sake of the country I hope he does!).

P.S. Dana, I know they say 3rd time lucky - but I doubt 2018 will be your year either!!

The Forgotten Irish Graduate, 25 October 2011

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My Favourite Thing...

At the risk of sounding a little self involved, my favourite thing are my legs, not because they resemble the perfect pins of Heidi Klum (good job, saves me another insurance premium!), nor do they offer the speed Tommy Bowe’s do when he sprints to the try line. Instead they have quite simply taken me from the back roads of Cavan to the rooftop of Africa.

In June 2010, I donned my hiking boots, and headed to Tanzania, to take on the world’s tallest freestanding mountain. Taking the Rongai Route I trekked through rainforests, lunar deserts, glaciers and to the crater of a dormant volcano over a period of seven days. Spent 16 hours of one day on my feet in a bid to reach the infamous signpost well placed on Uhuru Peak at 5,895 metres. Resultant of which was an exhilarating feeling which left me feeling on top of the world, and rightly so, I almost was; for my legs, weary as they may have been, had taken me to the world’s fourth highest point.

In May 2011, whilst the majority of the province were in Cardiff, witnessing a triumphant Leinster bring back the Heineken Cup, I was climbing up the rafters of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin (don’t worry I didn’t turn up at the wrong arena!) there was method to my madness! I instead had challenged myself to abseil down the Aviva Stadium courtesy of Dublin Dares You.

So why my legs? They make me stand tall in times of weakness, enable me to unwind in times of stress by carrying me that extra mile when out running, and most importantly, guarantee a fun filled night out when I hit the dance floor in killer heels with my mates (You bet we too move like Jagger!).

I’m no Dean Karnazes, Bear Grylls, or Ginger Rodgers... but it is the times we strip ourselves of all material possessions that we truly see what matters to us in life. When asked what my favourite thing in life was I immediately turned to my laptop and iphone; possessions that can virtually take me anywhere I want to go, but was reminded that it is when my two legs take me anywhere in this world, it is only then the experience truly is extraordinary.

In the words of Laura Ingalls Wilder ‘I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all’... even if I did turn to my iphone to tweet that ‘I’d just climbed Mount Kilimanjaro’!

As published in the 21 October 2011 edition of U Magazine.

- The Forgotten Irish Graduate, October 2011