Home > Uncategorized > An Irish Solution to an Irish President

An Irish Solution to an Irish President

Back in Atlantis, they are going to elect a new president this year. I know, they just got a new government – how much democracy can one bankrupt country afford in a single year? But they’re going ahead with it anyway – constitutional requirement and whatnot – and it will lead to a new president. Which is deeply, deeply unimportant, because the president of Ireland is a ceremonial sort of head of state role, a figurehead and nothing more. What usually happens is that each of the main (three) political parties nominates someone worthy but thoroughly unexciting, and one of them gets elected, and then everyone gets on with their lives.

But this year something mildly interesting is happening, in fitting with 2011’s resolution to really make its mark in the history books. This year, someone is being nominated by a facebook campaign. And that someone is David Norris.

David Norris is what they call ‘a well known character’ back in the old country, but I’ll provide some background notes for those who aren’t from the old country.

David Norris is a Joycean scholar of international renown. He is probably the most famous campaigner for gay rights in Ireland. He is the man who took Ireland to the European Court of Human Rights in 1988 and won, and is the reason that homosexuality was decriminalised in 1993. (No typos there, seriously. That is actually what happened.) He has been an elected member of Ireland’s ‘upper house’ for twenty years. He is also famous for not much liking the IRA. And he’s very, very funny.

This sounds good, you’re thinking. Someone with intelligence, the ability to think, to speak in complete sentences maybe. Someone with political passion and integrity. Someone with the guts to take on the overwhelming and oppressive cultural norms of the day and emerge victorious. Someone who isn’t a fan of terrorism. These are good things. They’re the sort of things I check for when I meet new people.

And yet lots of people are making funny little squeaky noises about not quite being sure they’d vote for him. I’ve been trying to translate their funny little squeaky noises into arguments because these might be easier to address than the nebulous sense of discomfort. Let’s see how I do. Let me know if I’ve missed anything.

Problem: Well, he’s too academic, you see. He’ll never get elected because he’s too academic, elitist, smart, intellectual, and other words we’ve been taught to mistrust.

Solution:  Well, we sure as hell wouldn’t want to be represented on the public stage by someone with a brain and the education to use it. Instead, always choose honest-to-god folks who can’t write their own fucking names. Start a facebook campaign demanding Bertie Ahern and George W Bush throw their hats in the ring.

Problem: It’s not that he’s gay of course. In the 18 years since his extraordinary victory in the European Court of Human Rights was made statute, Ireland has travelled an impressive distance. Just the right distance to ensure no one will admit they won’t vote for him because he’s gay. But it might be difficult for heads of other states to take him seriously, you have to understand. Because, well, he’s kind of camp. What if having to talk to a camp man offended the delicate sensibilities of Berlusconi or Ahmadinejad? 

Solution: Presumably a sixteen year old girl in full burqa would be an acceptable compromise for the gentlemen in question. I’m not sure this is actually how we should pick a head of state, but I suppose it must be considered.

Problem: Not liking the IRA is, it turns out, quite a big issue. Not that per se, of course, because we’re all very grown up now. But a man who has called the martyrs of 1916 ‘terrorists’ isn’t a suitable head of state to lead the flag-waving centenary celebrations which I personally will be avoiding like the plague unless Mr Cameron deports me before then.

Solution: Choose a head of state based on their ability to wave a flag. Better yet, save money and elect a flagpole. This would be indistinguishable from several former Irish presidents.       

Problem: We’re actually rather uncomfortable about not wanting to vote for an intellectual gay man with a noted disapproval of terrorism. We know this doesn’t paint us in quite the progressive light we’d now like to be seen.

Solution: Congratulate yourselves on just how far this country has come in thirty painful years. Then vote for Mr Norris. Shake off the coyness, the shoulder-shrugging, the lingering sense of unease about an intellectual gay man as your head of state. And please, please, vote for Mr Norris.

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  1. T800
    April 28, 2011 at 8:37 am

    So how exactly do you guys choose your president? What do you base their election on?

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