In the end, the end couldn’t come quick enough. It was a listless and unsatisfactory Presidential campaign. The incumbent was prone to smugness, and could afford to be; he knew he was in a different league.
Smug or not, Michael D is a class act, and it’s very evident that he’s a popular President. He did a fine job in his first term and he will continue to represent Ireland extremely well.
His victory was very comprehensive, but the competition was less than world class. We shouldn’t denounce the other candidates for that; they are decent people who did their best (albeit that some of them have delusions of grandeur).
Blame for the absence of a proper humdinger of an election lies with Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil. Both parties were too cowardly to take Michael D on, preferring to take no chances, keep their money safe and hopefully hang on to the President’s coat-tails as he sauntered to success.
Here’s my view of the not so famous five who trailed behind Michael D…
Peter Casey played his cards well, and make no mistake – despite his public aversion to the US President – they were Trump cards.
Casey’s public speaking style is not very polished, he is full of contradictions, he often seems to be speaking off the cuff, he makes unsubstantiated allegations for fun, he rattles the cosy consensus, talks straight, ruffles feathers and – most of all – he attacks the politically correct culture. I don’t know about you, but that reminds me of a chap in the USA. So yes, Casey cleverly took some pointers from the Donald Trump Guide to Rocking the Establishment and Speaking for A Fed Up section of the Squeezed Middle who resent how society is going.
The big loser of the election. Cut a forlorn figure throughout most of the campaign. I had no sympathy for him, well, not beyond the respect I would afford any person who goes before the electorate and gives it their best. But, long before the end, Gallagher came across as a man living in the past. I thought he was arrogant, presumptuous, and had nothing much to offer – bar waffle.
Liadh Ní Riada
I was quite impressed with Ní Riada’s campaign, and yet she attracted a poor vote. She’s a good speaker and a formidable and talented individual, but ‘Poppygate’ cost her a good bit of Sinn Fein support, and she slipped up badly when claiming that her take-home pay of around €60k was in line with the average industrial wage. This affected her credibility.
Joan is a genuine, warm, sincere individual, but the wheels came off her campaign pretty quickly. The work she has done in relation to Pieta House is phenomenal, but she arguably focussed too much on mental health. She performed poorly in the debates, at times coming across (unfairly, I’m guessing) as quite egotistical (I appreciate that having a big ego seems to be an essential part of the package when it comes to presidential candidates). She also lost her cool a few times in the debates. Freeman clearly did not have a full grasp of the Constitution. She described herself as a “one-trick pony”, which was a tactical error. Ultimately, voters got bored with Joan. They saw her as a very worthy person, but they didn’t see a President.
Gavin Duffy is much better than this paltry 2% that he mustered. Duffy is an intelligent man. On one level he’s a good communicator, but in this instance he got the nuances of his campaign wrong. He was so anxious to come across as a decent, reasonable guy (which he is), he boxed himself into an anonymous space. He became irrelevant. And while he is normally a good communicator, he didn’t, during this campaign, talk in quite the right language, and accordingly did not connect with the electorate. He became the forgotten man of the campaign.
Going around in circles in Roscommon town
Participation in a new game in Roscommon town – it’s for all the community – peaked on Friday last.
It’s called ‘How do we get our car home/anywhere?’ and involves hundreds of slightly/very frustrated motorists trying to move from one part of town to the other as gridlock grips the county town.
Okay, we’re tongue in cheek here – it’s not quite Dublin at rush hour – but traffic tailbacks are on the increase in Roscommon town! Mostly this is good news, reflecting excellent footfall as the shopping facilities in town attract customers from adjoining areas. Circular Road (in particular) on a Friday is very slow moving.
However, traffic build-ups have reached new levels in the past couple of weeks due to lots of those essential roadworks that are underway.
And so, last Friday, we had this bizarre new ‘game’ as motorists patiently tried to find escape routes from town centre back to their homes or places of work.
At around 4 pm, the area around McNeill’s roundabout was chock-a-block; I drove back down Abbey Street, headed towards the Civic HQ, then turned right for Main Street. Here I was thwarted again, because there are roadworks at The Square. I turned in the vicinity of St. Ciaran’s Park…back towards the Church…hoping to emerge on to the Fuerty Road. Silly of me. It was chaotic there too; virtually at a standstill. A number of parents who had collected their children from school were turning in the Church carpark, perhaps hoping for some Divine help in the process.
The whole town was a motoring riddle – with drivers wondering how to get out of the clogged-up centre.
More of the same on Tuesday (after the weekend respite) where at the roundabout opposite the Arts Centre, a beautiful vintage car – from the 1930s, I’d say – joined the slow moving traffic. Motoring’s sedate past suddenly merging with motoring’s sometimes frantic present.
So, slow times for motorists in Roscommon town, but no doubt it will all be worth it in the end! At least the schools are off this week!
Tragedy at Leicester
What has unfolded at Leicester City FC in recent years would have been deemed far-fetched if penned by a fiction writer.
Premier League players – and sometimes fans of the game – get a fair bit of flak, but there was a touching show of unity by the entire ‘football family’ at the weekend as people reacted with shock, grief and solemn dignity to the awful tragedy at Leicester.
Triumph, farce and tragedy…it’s been a bewildering few years’ at the club. Their Premier title triumph in 2016 defied belief. It was just extraordinary…unfashionable Leicester doing what appeared to be impossible…strutting to Premier League success with a team mostly made up of journeymen, the world class big boys at more illustrious clubs left in their wake. The following season, Claudio Raniera, the manager who led Leicester to glory, was dispensed with. Poor results sealed his fate: sentiment and the scale of the historic achievement of the previous season wasn’t enough to protect him from the ruthless and unforgiving demands of modern-day football.
Last weekend, a horrible new twist in Leicester’s recent history. A helicopter carrying five people, including Thai businessman Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha – the club’s very popular owner – crashed outside the King Power Stadium, shortly after Leicester’s draw with West Ham. There were no survivors.
The tragedy puts sport – even epic sporting acheivements, like’s Leicester’s in 2016 – into perspective. It is such a sad chapter in what is still a great, powerful and emotional story.