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Michael D Higgins: The presidential nomination system is archaic
The presidential candidate speaks frankly to Hot Press...
The Hot Press Newsdesk, 06 Oct 2011
With the nation set to go to the polls to decide Ireland's next president in just a few weeks time, those in the race are making their voices heard. One such candidate is former Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (and one-time Hot Press contributor) Michael D Higgins.
In a typically in-depth interview with Olaf Tyaransen in the brand new issue of Hot Press, out today, Higgins waxes lyrical on everything from his candidature to hanging out with Marlon Brando. Chief among the Labour man's concerns, naturally enough, is the nature of the Irish presidency. When quizzed on rival candidate David Norris, Higgins uses the opportunity to criticise the presidential nomination system.
“I would have preferred if David’s name had been on the list from far earlier," he says. “I think the system is archaic, and should be examined when the constitutional review takes place – for example, the restriction on citizens under 35 standing is something that should be looked at.”
Regarding the much-debated question of his age, the 70-year-old cites Republic of Ireland team boss Giovanni Trapattoni as an inspirational figure.
“I have a long list of people who have achieved many things after the age of 70," he notes with some enthusiasm. "I say to people when I’m asked, “they say that Picasso did his best work between the ages of 72 and 90. And it’s true. Age shouldn’t be a barrier. I have been attending Irish international matches and been very much in admiration of Signor Trapattoni’s energy on the sideline, and he’s a few years older than me.”
Asked if he welcomes Martin McGuinness into the contest Higgins says “Martin McGuinness has every right to be a candidate. He has qualified under the rules.”
On the subject of Northern Ireland, Higgins tells Hot Press, “One point worries me about Northern Ireland and that is those who suggest you can start with a clean sheet. You really can’t say morally to a person who has lost a partner, or who loved a person who has been dismembered, or one of whose family is in a wheelchair as a result of violence, that they ‘must forget this now and move on’.”