Pain in the Áras – The Mostly True Guide to the Irish Presidential Election
If you live in Ireland and not under a rock, you will have noticed that for the first time in fourteen years we’re having a presidential election. Here’s a quick round-up of the candidates. One of these people will be shaking hands with visiting dignitaries and rugby players for the next seven years.
A former PE teacher, Davis single-handedly organised the Special Olympics. She has cleverly deflected accusations of being a “Quango Queen” by repeatedly reminding everyone of her vast experience serving on unelected state bodies.
Chance of winning: Slimmer than her photoshopped election posters.
A completely independent candidate with no party backing whatsoever, Gallagher spent three decades posing as a staunch Fianna Fáil supporter in order to learn their ways. He then jumped ship, abandoning all association with the party but taking with him their tried and tested methods of shady financial dealings and categorical denial of proven facts.
Chance of winning: Remarkably good, if he has managed to convince enough Fianna Fáil supporters that he’s one of them and enough of the rest of the electorate that he’s not.
While not the youngest or tallest candidate, Higgins has overcome his obvious physical disadvantages by shrewdly doing something none of the other candidates thought to do: namely, learning what the job of President actually involves and then, showing that he’d actually be quite good at that. His opponents have complained that the media give him an easy time just because he’s never been involved in any scandals.
Chance of winning: Will win unless the electorate are morons, so middling.
Clean-living McGuinness does not smoke, has never touched alcohol and has not been convicted of transporting explosives and ammunition in nearly four decades. He separated from the IRA in 1974 although they have remained close friends ever since. He is unusual in that he wants to be president of a country he doesn’t recognise and won’t name. He has some relevant experience, currently serving as Deputy First Minister of another country he doesn’t recognise and won’t name.
Chance of winning: About the same as the chance of a united Ireland.
Mitchell bravely ignored calls from other candidates to run a positive campaign and spent most of his alloted time during debates accusing Martin McGuinness of being a terrorist. He filled the rest of the time telling stories about his impoverished childhood. If elected president, Mitchell has vowed to do something about all the suicides somehow.
Chance of winning: Not good. Unpopular even in his own party, Mitchell has to rely on the “At least he’s not a terrorist or a nutter” vote.
After entering, exiting and then dramatically entering again, Norris’s former partner was convicted of statutory rape. The ensuing scandal almost cost Norris the chance of a Presidential nomination.
Chance of winning: Not what it was. Would be better if he didn’t keep talking about underage sex.
English-born American Dana is best known for a singing competition she won as a teenager. In the 1980s she hosted a chat show on an obscure American cable TV channel. What more qualification does she need to be the president of a country she used to live near?
She has survived not only an attempt by the media to discredit her when they tried to find out what she was talking about when she insisted there was an attempt by the media to discredit her, but also an assassination attempt – dismissed by the anti-Dana establishment as a puncture.
Chance of winning: Has more chance of being the next Pope.
Those are your choices. Just be thankful our system of selecting candidates is so restrictive. But please, vote anyway, if only to make the volunteers at the polling stations feel useful.
There are also two referendums due to take place tomorrow but their content is a closely guarded secret.