Friday, May 20, 2011

The Irish Presidency

Ireland's current President Mrs Mary Mc. Aleese will finish her second term of office this autumn.
Various candidates are currently seeking support and nomination for the Presidency once it becomes vacant and unless there is an agreed candidate there will be a Presidential election to fill the position.
Of course the country is also abound with rumours of other possible candidates.

For example it has been rumoured that Mrs. Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, might be considering putting herself forward for a further term of presidency when the present incumbent, Mrs. Mary McAleese, stands down later this year.   Those near to Mrs. Robinson have denied the rumour.   However, it might be of interest to readers to be aware of Mrs. Robinson’s thinking in relation to various moral and ethical matters.

She campaigned vigorously for the provision of abortion - 

‘I would make abortion available in this country [Ireland] in limited circumstances. … It would be healthier to be more mature about ourselves, more honest.  Even for a country that regrets and feels a great sense of loss at the termination of life, it would be a preferable situation.  It would be a kind of coming to terms with the problem, instead of exporting it and moralising about it.’   She campaigned for contraception - ‘I consistently said that we need access to contraception to reduce the abortion rate.’  She campaigned for divorce, and fought for the ‘right’ to divorce before the European Court of Human Rights.  She campaigned successfully in favour of the decriminalisation of homosexual acts.  As her biography states: ‘By the end of the 1980s, Mary Robinson had won every liberal campaign medal there was.   A new generation was living comfortably within the freer society she had helped introduce, the older generation had begun to accept that the sky, after all, wouldn’t fall. …’ 

Here is another extract from her biography, describing a visit that she paid, as president, to the Vatican:  

‘President Mary Robinson drove in to the Vatican, through courtyard after courtyard, and drew up in front of a brilliantly dressed guard of honour.  There were the striped doublets and glinting helmets of the Swiss guard and the decorated lines of Papal Knights.  “What was very curious was that they were very colourfully dressed with medals and stiff white collars and plumes and you name it.  But when I got out of the car, it was quite clear they were surprised I wasn’t dressed in black.”  Queen Elizabeth had come in penitent black with a veil.  It was assumed that the President of Catholic Ireland would do no less.  Yet here she was in a smart green dress and coat with a cheeky sprig of Women’s Day mimosa – bareheaded.   Some critics would later say – barefaced.                                   
‘The Pope’s men were astonished.  “When I recognised that, I was delighted I had taken the decision that I had.  Far from feeling awkward about it, I felt that this was what I was about.  This is International Women’s Day, and I am an elected woman head of state and it is right that I should walk along and inspect this elaborate male guard not wearing a veil and a black dress!”
‘President and Pope met as two heads of state … Times had changed since the days when she had challenged the power of the Church over women’s lives and won.  Contraception liberated women to fight for all the other freedoms.  Mary Robinson had helped establish a new status and a new confidence among Irish women and her election was the very symbol of it.'