THE VOLUNTEER INFORMATION group TellUsWhy.ie has asked each of the Presidential candidates a question for each day of this week to discern their priorities for the office.
TheJournal.ie is hosting the question – and answers – each day.
What one personal experience or achievement do you feel qualifies you, as opposed to any other, to be the President of Ireland?
I am the only candidate who has actually used the Constitution to help protect a marginalised minority. I have established businesses that created employment and set up counselling services to help people in need. All my life I have stood in solidarity with the marginalised and protected the human rights of children and adults. None of my opponents can offer what I offer in terms of my track record.
Of all the candidates who are standing for the presidency, I am the only completely independent candidate, having never been a member of a political party. My earnings and the positions I have held are in the public domain and on my website. I have nothing to hide.
Furthermore, I am the only candidate who has direct experience working with president of the day, providing constructive constitutional advisement through my position on the Council of State. In terms of international experience, for the last 25 years I have been involved in a leadership capacity for a large social enterprise working across 180 countries. I have sat across from EU representatives and negotiated
a better future for people with disabilities.
I believe the presidency belongs to the people. I am not a celebrity or a politician. My life’s work has always been in the service of others.
Michael D Higgins:
My personal journey from small farm to factory worker to clerk to teacher to womens rights and social justice campaigner to public representative has taken me through many aspects of Irish life and I think given me a certain compassion and understanding.
In terms of achievements I would probably cite my experience as Ireland’s first Minister for the Arts in 1993-97, which proved that I was not merely someone who expressed aspirations for change, but someone who could deliver practical and imaginative transformation, often in the face of strong opposition.
In just five years as Minister, I moved Irish film from an 11 million industry into one worth 186 million – it is now worth €390 million last year and provides 1,695 fulltime jobs. I joined up our waterways with the result that Ireland now has over 1000 kilometres of navigable waterways, supporting employment and tourism in many rural and remote areas of the country; I removed the censorship of Section 31 of the Broadcasting Acts, and contributed to the emerging Peace by allowing the voices if all to be heard by all.
I established TG4 supporting the democratic rights of those many citizens who wish to raise their children in the Irish language and I also established a network of local arts venues right across Ireland to support greater access to creativity for every citizen.
I see the same potential today and will bring the same vision and practicality to the very different opportunities offered by the Presidency.
What I have to offer the people of Ireland is leadership, experience, a vision for the future which is based on equality and the rights of citizens and my willingness to stand with the people at this time of grave economic peril.
My international experience in Europe means I have more contacts than any other candidate among world policy makers, so I can get worldwide access for this state. I am the only candidate who has been elected to an international post – as an MEP. While my colleagues in the race have national experience, or international experience in one or two countries, I have international experience across 27 EU states and beyond, and that is what will deliver benefits to Ireland.
Electing a President with a proven track record in enterprise and job creation sends a very clear message to the country and also internationally that Ireland is open for business. My experience in farming, youth and community work as well as enterprise gives me a unique perspective. I am young and energetic and I know that I can make a positive contribution. This is not about me, it is about the challenges faced by our country and how we can put our strengths to work to overcome these challenges.
Dana Rosemary Scallon: Failed to return an answer to the question.
Question No. 2 will be answered tomorrow morning: “Past presidents have had a main focus while in office (eg Mary Robinson and human rights). What would be your main priority as President? Why do you feel that you need to become the President of Ireland to pursue this cause?”