NOW that the line-up of candidates for the presidential election on October 26th has been confirmed, the campaign has got under way in earnest. There are five other candidates trying to unseat President Michael D Higgins and this will be difficult given his high profile and popularity.
Although many of his speeches might be regarded by some as a tad highfalutin, his statesman-like demeanour and diplomatic skills have served the country with dignity over the past seven years. However, he has gone back on his promise to only serve one term and there are also question marks about some of his spending at the Áras.
Of the other candidates, the one that everybody will be watching is Sean Gallagher, whose campaign the last time around was unfairly derailed, yet he still managed to garner half a million votes. His low public profile since that last campaign may not help his cause, however, and his impact may be diluted somewhat by the fact that two others – Gavin Duffy and Peter Casey – from the Dragons Den television programme which gave him his initial claim to fame are candidates also.
Having seen how a businessman from a reality TV show assuming elected office for the first time has worked out so far in the United States, people may be wary of the three ‘Dragons.’ However, they all seem to be a much higher calibre of person.
The two female candidates are also formidable with independent Senator Joan Freeman of Pieta House fame having had a high profile for a number of years. Cork’s Liadh Ní Riada, even though she is an MEP, is not as well-known and, strangely, having been nominated by her Sinn Féin party, its name does not feature on her campaign posters.