Uachtarán na hÉireann

Today along with many other Irish citizens I will elect my head of state.

I don’t expect people who think a monarchy is normal to get this, but this is the next step in human organisational development.

All political power however limited or ceremonial should be subject to a democratic mandate.

Whatever has been said of the process by which people can become presidential candidates in this republic we have been offered seven very different people.

The candidates are an inclusive bunch that gives a fascinating snapshot of modern Ireland. Five men, two women,

Among the seven is an openly gay man, two Derry Catholics and a Gaeilgoir from the West.

Given our voting system I can vote for all of them in order of preference.

At time of writing I intend to give only two of the seven my support.

I am not a member of a political party and I don’t go to meetings etc.

I looked at the seven and thought “which one would I be proud of on the international stage as my president?”

Numero uno Martin McGuiness.

He IS presidential. That said like many people voting for him I don’t accept his approved narrative of his time in the IRA. I do not believe that he left that organisation in 1974. If he had then he could not have been such a pivotal person in the Peace Process. If he is elected he won’t be first to hold the office who was in the IRA and knew what the inside of a prison cell looked like.

If he isn’t available due to him not getting enough votes then Michael D Higgins will do for me.

Of all of the candidates “Micky Dee” has thought most about this job. He understands the constitutional parameters of the office intimately and as a Gaeilgoir he has that grasp of the essence of Irishness.

There is still a chance that the next president of this republic will be Sean Gallagher. He entered the race as a household name because of his role in the TV series “Dragon’s Den.”

What wasn’t generally known was that Gallagher was in fact an influential backroom figure in Fianna Fail with his involvement in the party going back to the days of Charlie Haughey.

His key role in a Fianna Fail fund raising event during Brian Cowan’s period as Taoiseach was exposed in dramatic fashion by McGuiness on live TV.

As Gallagher stumbled over the details of he used a word that any Fianna Fail apparatchik should never utter when discussing finance “envelope.”

The immediate analysis of “Tonight with Vincent Browne” it was clear that the main loser of the last presidential debate was Gallagher.

Up until this interaction, moderated brilliantly by Pat Kenny, Sean Gallagher was on for my second preference simply because I thought he wasn’t part of the corrupt cronyism that ha d got us into this situation where we are on economic life support from the IMF.

Now he won’t get my vote at all. The idea of voting for a Fianna Fail bagman as I view the economic carnage around me would be unthinkable.

Here Irish Times Political correspondent Harry McGee discusses the potential impact of that debate on Seán Gallagher, and whether Michael D. Higgins can close the gap.

There are also some serious questions about how Gallagher ran his company  Smarthomes and the remuneration he took from it.

At the end of it Gallagher is, in my eyes, the Fianna Fail candidate by stealth while pretending to be an independent.

You’ve been rumbled and for that reason Sean I’m out!

The only other serious contender left out of the four to really consider would be Senator David Norris.

Once more I was well disposed to the endearing Joycean academic. However the scandal over the letters was not dealt with. His performance in the earlier televised debates on the subject when challenged by veteran journalist Vincent Browne was embarrassing for him. He had stepped out of the race then came back in.

Restarting his candidacy was a serious error of judgment in my opinion. The letters controversy never left him alone. The fact that he had written letters to the Israeli authorities in favour of a former lover who had been convicted of sexual relations with a 15 years old boy coupled with his, err, unorthodox views on the age of consent should have been the end of his career as a senator in my opinion let alone permitting him a tilt at the presidency.  Over the last week Norris realising he couldn’t win started to relax in debates and just enjoyed himself on the hustings. In the last debate he was good humoured and quick witted. There is much to admire about David Norris as an equality campaigner. However that doesn’t, for me, neutralise the effect of those letters.

This has been a calamitous election for the Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell. With persistent rumours that the backroom boys of the government party weren’t behind his candidacy he ever really got off the ground. There really isn’t anything to say other than his numbers have been utterly embarrassing for a candidate from a government party sitting at over 30% in the polls.

That leaves Dana Rosemary Scallon and Mary Davis.

The first was damaged by the fact that she has a US passport and would have had to renounce her Irish citizenship in the naturalisation ceremony. She denied that there ever was such a ceremony.

Mary Davis, nicknamed “the quango queen” was associated in the public mind with the gravy train of state sinecures that were a feature of the Tiger years.

This campaign will be remembered for the fact that people seriously considered electing the lad

from Oglaigh na hÉireann as Uachtarán na hÉireann and the sky didn’t fall in.

However the defining moment of this election will be  Gallagher’s faulty recollection on live TV over an envelope that might have contained a cheque.

And to think I had thought at the start of this campaign that Fianna Fail didn’t have a candidate in this election!

Ok this saoránach na hÉireann is away to vote.

Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion