FRONT­LINES…

A se­lec­tion of the coun­try’s lead­ing mu­si­cians and cul­tural fig­ures on why Michael D. Hig­gins re­mains the right man to rep­re­sent Ire­land.

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With the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in the off­ing, a se­lec­tion of the coun­try’s lead­ing mu­si­cians and cul­tural fig­ures ex­plain why Michael D. Hig­gins re­mains the right man to rep­re­sent Ire­land. In ad­di­tion, Stephen Porzio meets the peo­ple on the front­lines of the hous­ing cri­sis.

CONOR J. OʼBRIEN

I ab­so­lutely and un­equiv­o­cally en­dorse Michael D and will vote for him to be pres­i­dent. I am cur­rently proud to live in a coun­try in which a man of such ar­tic­u­lacy, grace and wis­dom serves as a cul­tural am­bas­sador, and shines a light on the cre­ativ­ity and di­ver­sity of this lit­tle is­land of ours. Plus he’s not afraid to call a spade a spade, or, in some cases, a w*nker a w*nker.

NI­AMH FROM HAM­SAND­WICH

I will be vot­ing for Michael D in the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion this Oc­to­ber. The pres­i­dent of Ire­land should re­flect the coun­try and I think Micheal D does this per­fectly. He is a mas­sive sup­porter of the creative arts in Ire­land. Whether it be mu­sic, art or po­etry, he un­der­stands that Ire­land’s strengths lie in its artis­tic na­ture. He has a beau­ti­ful way with words and he’s just an all­round won­der­ful hu­man be­ing. I am proud that he is our pres­i­dent, so long may it con­tinue.

ALI­SON SPIT­TLE

Micheal D is the bees knees. He’s hug­gable yet pres­i­den­tial. He has as much en­thu­si­asm for Ire­land as Ire­land had for him. The whole time I’ve been alive Ire­land had had great pres­i­dents, the two Marys and miggeldy. He’s well able to con­tinue. I want Lynn Ruane next.

STEVE WALL

Yes, I will be vot­ing for Michael D again this time. In my opin­ion he has been a won­der­ful pres­i­dent. He be­gan his term roughly three years af­ter the coun­try had been brought to its knees by the bank­ing sys­tem, and de­stroyed by greed and light touch reg­u­la­tion. We were in full aus­ter­ity mode and for many in Ire­land to­day, this is still the case. Michael D’s in­au­gu­ral speech at Dublin Cas­tle on Novem­ber 11, 2011 should be read again. This par­tic­u­lar pas­sage res­onated with me:

“.... in more re­cent years, we saw the rise of a dif­fer­ent kind of in­di­vid­u­al­ism – closer to an ego­tism based on purely ma­te­rial con­sid­er­a­tions – that tended to value the worth of a per­son in terms of the ac­cu­mu­la­tion of wealth rather then their fun­da­men­tal dig­nity. That was our loss, the source in part, of our

present dif­fi­cul­ties. Now it is time to turn to an older wis­dom that, while re­spect­ing ma­te­rial com­fort and se­cu­rity as a ba­sic right of all, also recog­nises that many of the most valu­able things in life can­not be mea­sured.”

The gombeen man is alive and well and hov­er­ing at the thresh­old. We see ho­tels and stu­dent ac­com­mo­da­tion be­ing built while fam­i­lies are home­less. NAMA has sold off prop­er­ties to for­eign vul­ture funds at fire­sale prices. The at­tempt to con­trol spi­ralling rents has been a fail­ure and many are stuck in the vi­cious cy­cle of work­ing just to pay the rent.

I am ut­terly dis­ap­pointed and dis­il­lu­sioned with this gov­ern­ment and feel their pri­or­i­ties are busi­ness be­fore peo­ple. Now more than ever we need an an­ti­dote to all that in the Áras. Some­one who can echo the words of James Con­nolly when he said that: “Ire­land with­out her peo­ple means noth­ing to me”. That an­ti­dote is Michael D. Hig­gins.

FELIS­PEAKS

Af­ter hav­ing heard him speak a few times, I can say I am sup­port­ing a man who’s not just pas­sion­ate about the art that I love, but a man who’s pas­sion­ate about peo­ple. An im­per­a­tive trait in a Pres­i­dent.

ROC­STRONG

I’d like to show sup­port for Michael D. Hig­gins for the up­com­ing pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. It’s very en­cour­ag­ing to see a pres­i­dent show a lot of sup­port for di­ver­sity in arts and cul­ture through­out his past term, and I’d love to see that con­tinue. Change is of­ten good but when some­thing is good, why change it? Vote Michael D. Hig­gins.

JERRY FISH

In my mind Micheal D Hig­gins is the only con­tender we have for the pres­i­dency of Ire­land. A poet, in­tel­lec­tual and com­pas­sion­ate man, who clearly loves the peo­ple who re­side on this is­land. He em­bod­ies ev­ery­thing we have to be proud of about this coun­try, and in turn has made me feel very proud to be Irish to­day.

Michael D. Hig­gins’ state­ment af­ter the ref­er­en­dum at the World Hu­man­i­tar­ian Sum­mit in Is­tan­bul – “We must un­equiv­o­cally recog­nise that gen­der equal­ity is a right and not a gift” – moved me to be­lieve, be­yond a doubt, that this is the only man to rep­re­sent our coun­try. He is the model am­bas­sador for 21st cen­tury Ire­land.

DAVID KEENAN

I send these words out into the ether as a sign of love and sup­port for Pres­i­dent Michael D. Hig­gins as he pre­pares for re-elec­tion. In my eyes he is a cham­pion for the arts; the un­sung he­roes in our com­mu­ni­ties; and the Irish lan­guage and its rel­e­vance in mod­ern Ire­land.

He gives voice to the con­cerns of Ire­land’s cit­i­zens and stands among them as an equal, when so many in gov­ern­ment fail to mut­ter or man­i­fest a sin­gle orig­i­nal or in­spired idea that might ben­e­fit us as a na­tion.

He is an in­cred­i­bly in­tel­li­gent and ar­tic­u­late soul, and hav­ing met him and spent time with him, he strikes me as be­ing de­void of pre­tense and ego. He is deeply pas­sion­ate about other hu­man be­ings and wishes to push the of­fice of the pres­i­dent to its lim­its; he wants to be more than just a silent dec­o­ra­tion. He is open­hearted, wel­com­ing, in­tel­li­gent and proud.

JOSEPH OʼCONNOR, NOV­EL­IST

Ear­lier this year I spoke at an event at Fran­cis Street Chris­tian Broth­ers’ School in the Lib­er­ties. The school, which my fa­ther at­tended in the 1940s, was cel­e­brat­ing its 200th an­niver­sary. Pres­i­dent Hig­gins and his wife Sabina were the guests of hon­our.

The Pres­i­dent spoke with warmth and pas­sion of the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion in his own early life, and the im­mense value of read­ing (‘you’re never alone once you’ve a book,’ he re­marked), but what struck me most force­fully was the time he spent in­for­mally with the school­child­ren.

Af­ter the cer­e­mony he and his wife went around the room, pa­tiently, gen­tly, speak­ing to every sin­gle child gath­ered for this spe­cial day. Some ad­dressed him in Irish, and he con­versed with them com­fort­ably. Some were the chil­dren of im­mi­grants to our coun­try. He took time.

He laughed a lot. He lis­tened qui­etly. It was a re­mark­ably mov­ing morn­ing and I’ll never for­get

“MORE STRAIGHT­FOR­WARD TALK­ING LIKE THAT FROM OTHER POLITI­CIANS WOULD BE VERY WEL­COME.”

it. There were no cam­era crews or re­porters. Just the chil­dren and their teach­ers. It would have meant so much to my late Fran­cis Street grand­par­ents that the Pres­i­dent of Ire­land vis­ited the school to which they sent their sons. Michael D is the first who ever did.

Dur­ing his time as a TD he lost his seat rather than aban­don his stance for women’s rights. He has al­ways stood up for the dis­pos­sessed. He’s brave. He’s tough. It’s why young peo­ple get him. His in­ter­est in cul­ture is heart­felt and com­mit­ted. He was the best Arts Min­is­ter we’ve ever had.

He’s a lik­able, in­de­pen­dently minded, se­ri­ous man. By which I mean he doesn’t play the ee­jit, as some politi­cians do. His speeches don’t talk down. You’re in­vited to lis­ten up. When he rep­re­sents us on the world stage, I feel peo­ple see the best of us: in­clu­sive­ness, in­tel­li­gence, in­tegrity and com­pas­sion.

KEVIN McGA­H­ERN

The Pres­i­dent of Ire­land is a mostly cer­e­mo­nial role; he is an am­bas­sador who should rep­re­sent what is great about this coun­try. And I think that for the last seven years, Michael D has done a bang-up job. He’s bril­liant. It’s like he was ge­net­i­cally cre­ated in a lab for the sole pur­pose of be­ing the Pres­i­dent of Ire­land.

He’s warm, cul­tured, in­tel­li­gent and em­pa­thetic. He is a long-time hu­man rights ac­tivist, and a strong sup­porter of the arts, plus he can bang out a poem as gaelige at the drop of a flat­cap. Imag­ine one of them busi­ness lads from Drag­ons Den shak­ing hands with Premier Li and read­ing out a poem they wrote.

God almighty. The only rea­son to vote for Sean Gal­lagher is be­cause he has a per­fectly round head and it would fit very nicely on a €2 coin, if we ever de­cide to put pres­i­dents on money. We need to sup­port the arts in this coun­try, and we need a pres­i­dent who un­der­stands the im­por­tance of the unique and in­flu­en­tial voices of Irish artists.

BRIAN PALM

For me there is one and only one vi­able can­di­date run­ning for Pres­i­dent of Ire­land, Mr. Michael D. Hig­gins. It has been an ab­so­lute plea­sure and priv­i­lege to live in Ire­land dur­ing his pres­i­dency and to have been able to di­rectly wit­ness and ex­pe­ri­ence the dig­nity and hu­man­ity with which he has ful­filled his role. I has­ten to add that any com­par­i­son with the cur­rent Amer­i­can Pres­i­dent brings this feel­ing into even sharper fo­cus.

Dur­ing the past year or two I have at­tended sev­eral men’s and women’s sport­ing events where Mr. Hig­gins was present, sev­eral cul­tural events where he was in at­ten­dance and at least three fu­ner­als where he was present, rep­re­sent­ing the Irish Gov­ern­ment. He has main­tained a very high pub­lic pro­file through­out his pres­i­dency, while al­ways re­main­ing re­spect­fully fo­cused on the event or com­mem­o­ra­tion he was at­tend­ing, rather than draw­ing at­ten­tion to his own pres­ence.

In his for­mer role as Min­is­ter for Cul­ture, Her­itage and the Arts, I got the op­por­tu­nity to watch him in ac­tion at close range. Sev­eral times I ap­proached him ask­ing for his sup­port for artis­tic or mu­si­cal projects I was in­volved with, and in each case he came through for me with no hes­i­ta­tion, and with no strings at­tached.

Sim­ply by lend­ing his mo­ral sup­port to an artis­tic project, and by en­dors­ing it, he im­bued the project with cred­i­bil­ity and le­git­i­macy which helped it get off the ground. He is the only Min­is­ter for the Arts who has ever done any­thing re­motely like that for me per­son­ally; and for that alone he has my sup­port and my vote.

I was very im­pressed by Mr. Hig­gins’ re­ac­tion when Fi­del Cas­tro died and most of the world’s lead­ers uni­ver­sally con­demned the com­mu­nist leader. Michael D. Hig­gins re­tained his dig­nity and spoke in pos­i­tive and re­spect­ful terms of Cas­tro’s ac­com­plish­ments in the face of ex­treme ad­ver­sity. At that mo­ment he re­tained Ire­land’s dig­nity as a whole, as he spoke elo­quently and in­tel­li­gently, and most of all with hu­man­ity, re­gard­ing Cas­tro’s con­flicted life and legacy.

Fi­nally, I would like to ad­mit that Mr. Hig­gins made me laugh out loud with plea­sure re­cently when I saw him on the news. While cam­paign­ing for re-elec­tion, he was be­ing an­tag­o­nised by a re­porter who kept fir­ing ques­tions at him about whether or not he was plan­ning to pub­lish a re­port re­gard­ing fi­nances. He dis­missed the re­porter with a with­er­ing: “I just gave you all the in­for­ma­tion, so if you want to see it pub­lished, off you go!”

More straight­for­ward talk­ing like that from other politi­cians would be a very wel­come devel­op­ment in Ire­land, and on the world stage as a whole.

ELEANOR McEVOY

When I’m abroad on tour, I love telling peo­ple that our Pres­i­dent is a poet. It makes me proud that here in Ire­land we elected a per­son who values the arts; it makes me proud that that’s the per­son we chose to rep­re­sent us here at home; and it makes me proud that he is our voice to the world. Michael D. does us proud and I’ll cer­tainly be vot­ing for him in Oc­to­ber.

SHARON SHAN­NON

I’ll be vot­ing for Michael D be­cause I con­sider him to be the most suit­able can­di­date for the job by far. He has done a bril­liant job as Pres­i­dent of Ire­land for the last seven years, and he has made me very proud on many oc­ca­sions. I ad­mire his gen­uine pas­sion for the Irish lan­guage, cul­ture, mu­sic, po­etry and the arts.

FeliS­peaks

David Keenan

Ali­son Spit­tle (Cen­tre)

Ni­amh from Ham­sand­wich

Eleanor McEvoy

Conor J O’Brien Roc­strong

Joseph O’Con­nor, nov­el­ist

Jerry Fish

Kevin McGa­h­ern

Steve Wall

Brian Palm

Sharon Shan­non

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