Michael Kelly: ‘Higgins can be a steward to heal the wounds of Irish history – but he needs a broader scope of sympathy’

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Michael Kelly: ‘Higgins can be a steward to heal the wounds of Irish history – but he needs a broader scope of sympathy’


Michael D Higgins makes his victory speech after he was announced as the winner of Ireland's presidential election at Dublin Castle. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Michael D Higgins makes his victory speech after he was announced as the winner of Ireland’s presidential election at Dublin Castle. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

It was really pragmatism more than principle that saw the combined forces of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil unite to support the re-election of a popular President who spent most of his Oireachtas career opposing their policies. Neither party was keen to deplete their respective war chests when a general election could come at any time.

The poor showing of Sinn Féin’s candidate Liadh Ní Riada certainly vindicated the approach taken by the two big parties. While Mary Lou McDonald was keen to put a brave face on the outcome, there’s no doubt that Ms Ní Riada winning almost 150,000 fewer votes than Martin McGuinness seven years earlier is a considerable electoral setback – not to mention the wasted expense.

The resounding mandate received by Michael D Higgins showed that most people think he has done a fine job as first citizen.

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