Irish Republican News · July 29, 2011
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
Presidential election date named

The coalition government in Dublin has named Thursday, October 27th, as the date for the presidential election and two constitutional referenda.

Incumbent president Mary McAleese is not contesting the election, the first for seven years.

One referendum will provide for the reduction in judges’ pay and the other will give new powers to parliamentary committees to conduct investigations.

The government said there was insufficient time to organise a third referendum, to allow for the protection of the identity of whistleblowers.

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald described the decision to hold the election and referendums on a Thursday as “regressive” and “yet another government roll back on pre-elections promises”.

“Labour Leader Eamon Gilmore advocated for Sunday voting and for voting to take place over a two day period,” she said.

Fine Gael were “so against” the previous Fianna Fáil government’s decision to hold the 2007 election on a Thursday, the party brought forward a Private Members motion in an effort to ‘force’ a weekend election. This was because weekday elections prevent many students and young professionals from returning home to vote, she added.

“The bums on government seats may have changed but with every announcement by Fine Gael and Labour Ministers it becomes more and more obvious that there is no substantive difference between this government and the last.”

Meanwhile, artist Robert Ballagh has ruled out running for president as a Sinn Fein/left-wing candidate opposed to the austerity drive being imposed on the 26-County state by the European Union and the IMF (International Monetary Fund).

Mr Ballagh said his job was “painting canvasses not canvassing votes”. He admitted he had been in talks with Sinn Fein and the United Left Alliance about running for the Presidency.

He said he had held meetings about the election “in general” and the possibility of a left-wing candidate being on the ticket. He said he also believed Independent Senator and gay rights advocate David Norris should be on the ticket.

But the artist said he had no ambitions to run in the election.

“I’m passionately interested in politics but people feel that develops into an interest in running for public office,” the artist said. “Having thought it through, I feel I should leave it to others, who have more distinct political ambitions than I,” Mr Ballagh added.

Seven prospective presidential candidates, including Mr Norris and fellow Independents Mary Davis and Sean Gallagher, are seeking a presidential nomination.

Front runners for the election are currently Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell, currently a members of the European Parliament for Dublin, and Labour’s Galway-based former Minister, Michael D. Higgins.

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© 2011 Irish Republican News