Choosing the first citizen from amongst ourselves alone

Tomorrow Irish citizens within the 26 Counties will elect their head of state.

This must seem strange to some of the denizens of Ukania who apparently seem content with their own brand of celebrity feudalism.

Ah well.

Note that not all Irish citizens will get a vote on this important matter.

As a result of the Belfast Agreement of 1998 anyone born in Northern Ireland has a right to Irish Citizenship.

It is their choice if they want to be, in the words of the agreement “British, Irish or both”.

Of course, this has produced the Schleswig-Holstein Question of Brexit, but that is a scéal eile.

I, as an Irish citizen in Donegal, have a vote, but my fellow Irish citizens in neighbouring Derry and Tyrone do not.

It is something that needs to be rectified.

For me, there are only two real choices in the election for Uachtarán na hÉireann.

The incumbent Michael D Higgins and Liadh Ní Riada of Sinn Féin.

Quite frankly the other candidates are like extras from a particularly bizarre episode of Father Ted.

If the opinion polls are accurate then Michael D will easily secure another seven-year term.

Two years ago in my father’s town of Westport, the Big Fella and I were in the front row to hear our Uachtarán give a magisterial analysis of the revolutionary generation that took on an Empire.

We were there to commemorate the Westport 31, the men who had been deported to Frongoch POW Camp in Wales for their part in the 1916 rising.

One of the 31 was my grandmother’s brother Michael.

Higgins, speaking without notes that day, demonstrated a nuanced grasp of the shifting of tectonic plates on this island that had happened in those years.

He has been rightly held to account during this election for his use of the government jet during his tenure.

However, the balance sheet of his term in office is overwhelmingly positive for this citizen.

That said, Liadh Ní Riada would be a breath of fresh air in Áras an Uachtaráin.

Fortunately, unlike the Saxe-Coburg-Gotha clan in Britland, we get the say which of them will represent us on the world stage.

The Big Fella and Number One Daughter will travel to Donegal tomorrow and we will all vote together as citizens of this Republic.

If their mother and I had stayed put when herself was born in the Rotten Row then they would still be in a city that didn’t acknowledge who they were or value their cultural heritage.

That is why these good folk in Glasgow are setting about a mighty task.


Discover Phil’s dramatic play Rebellion