Tim Pat’s letter to the Irish Independent, published 24/8/11, probes a deeper question surrounding the race for the Aras…
As the proportion of the population throwing, or not throwing, its hat into the ring of the presidential contest begins to acquire the characteristics of a somewhat farcical mass movement, is it not time to ask the questions do we need a president at all? Can we afford one?
The president’s powers are not essential to the running of the nation even at the best of times. These are not the best of times and we cannot say that they are the worst because we know that there is worse to come in the forthcoming Budget and in charges on water, property, energy and — on what should be the bread of the future — a university education.
The only things going down are incomes and the pitiable benefits of the young and the elderly.
We had no president in our first Constitution after independence. There was a governor general, who was imposed upon us by the British, and who was got rid of by De Valera who introduced the presidency in his 1937 Constitution, and subsequently made the office a well-paid old folks home.
Now that Fianna Fail, which De Valera founded, has got rid of not merely the governor general but of the economic independence which the founders of the State fought for, is it not time to close down this rather ruritanian institution, with its aura of the Raj and the Viceregal Lodge, and spend the money on things like getting cancer sufferers off trolleys in busy hospital corridors or, alternatively, in prosecuting the people responsible for our economic situation?
Tim Pat Coogan
Dalkey, Co Dublin