I have decided to put myself forward as President of Ireland.
There is to be an election later this year, since after two terms in office the incumbent President Mary McAleese is not permitted to stand again, and there has been a bit of a struggle to find anyone who would be acceptable to the electorate, ie, someone who is not an ex-politician looking for a nice, well-paid retirement post.
The people’s original favourite, raconteur and Joycean scholar David Norris withdrew from the race under something of a cloud. The next favourite (at least according to him) was an ex-TV presenter called Gay Byrne (in this country “ex-TV presenter” means someone who has retired from the show they have done for many years, but who is still wheeled out to present other programmes several times a year). He also withdrew, not under a cloud, but because he would have to come down from his.
People are now mentioning Micheál Ó’Muircheartaigh, a really sweet man whose gentle voice graced Gaelic Football and Hurling commentaries for many years, but who is now 81, retired and has never shown any interest in the job. The main reason to elect him would be to laugh the BBC and CNN’s attempts to pronounce his name.
But enough about them. All of them labour under the belief that being elected to the Presidency would be an elevation to high office, and each of them have publicly doubted whether they would be up to the job. Since a couple of months ago on this very blog I gave reasons why I would make an excellent Prime Minister, and since back at the start of the year I reported that I had applied successfully to the Vatican for the job of God, I would have no such doubts. In fact, I might well be able to keep my present job at the same time.
Because the job is not like that of President of the US, where I would have to deal with stuff like mid-term elections, the Tea Party and trying to figure out what a trillion is, although I believe that tea-parties may well be involved.
The post is more that of a national figurehead. I’d be like the Queen, though without a crown, my face on our money or the ability to refer to oneself in the third person singular. I won’t have to do a State of the Union address, like Obama, I won’t have to do a Christmas Day address like the Queen.
I will have an address, though. It’s called Áras an Uachtaráin (let me tell you, Spellcheck is not enjoying this post) and I would be expected to move in there for my seven-year term. When I tell you that this house is in the middle of one of the largest parks in any European capital city, and therefore miles from any pub, you will understand the sacrifices I am prepared to make in the service of my country.
Any overseas readers struck by the majestic sound of the name, by the way, will be disappointed to learn that it is simply Irish for “The House of the President”.
They might as well call Buckingham Palace “The Queen’s Gaff”.
I would be addressed as “Your Excellency”, which I find it hard to argue with. Since we have had female presidents for the last twenty years no-one can remember how to address the wife of a male one, so I plan to start referring to Mrs Tin as Lady Tin and hope that it catches on.
My duties, as far as I can tell, will be to visit foreign countries and tell them how great Ireland is, allow new ambassadors to present their credentials (I’m hoping that’s not a euphemism) and then tell them how great Ireland is, and attend a lot of state banquets, where I will be expected to toast how great Ireland is.
It is also apparently traditional that I attend the Dublin Horse Show each year. Never mind, I can always bring a book.
It’s not all beer and skittles, though (in fact I believe there is very little of either), I do have some responsibility. If the Government of the day collapses and comes to me asking to dissolve itself and call an election I apparently have the power to tell them that they can‘t. This power is generally regarded as a good thing for democracy, though I‘ve never understood why. It seems to me that I’d be telling a group of people too incompetent to run the government that they are to continue to incompetently run the government, and why one would ever do this is beyond me.
Oh, there is one more thing. Apparently the President is expected to be above politics.
I have seen what has passed for politics in this country over the last thirty years, and believe me I am well above that.