WHILE opening The Irish Times on the Internet on Monday morning, June 20 and fully expecting to see a photo of Rory (what a story) McIlroy, there on the front page was none other than Niall O'Dowd, Irish Voice publisher, and the news that he might well throw his hat into the ring for the Irish presidency.
My immediate thoughts were, why not? As the world is all too aware at the moment, Ireland is going through the worst financial crisis in its modern day history, and here is a man with all the credentials, and know how, to help the country in its attempts to get back on an even keel.
About 90% of foreign investment in Ireland comes from the U.S., and without it I dread to think how much worse off Ireland would be.
O'Dowd would be the perfect choice for president in the present economic climate, as he is probably on first name terms with the majority of the top Irish American business leaders in the U.S.
The fact that he has lived more than half his life in New York is a huge plus rather than being a deterrent. This man has done more for the peace process and Irish immigrants than all of the Irish politicians in the south (with the rare exception of Albert Reynolds) in the past 25 years or so, and he never once forgot where he came from.
It's just that he keeps a very low profile and, like Rory's dad, prefers to stay in the background. But he is in fact, one of the chief architects behind all things that have helped the Irish, both here and in Northern Ireland.
If he should decide to run, I think the Irish people would be smart to give him their vote. They have nothing to lose in that regard but everything to gain.
From its first president, Douglas Hyde, to the present one, Mary McAleese (who by the way has done an admirable job as indeed did her predecessor Mary Robinson in changing the role), the Irish president has been more or less a figurehead who entertained foreign dignitaries at Aras an Uachtarain and wielded little or no power, similar in fact to the British monarchy and Ireland's present government.
Ireland can no longer afford this, especially now, with the country on its knees and practically groveling to the Germans and French, with absolutely no one in the present coalition government seemingly having a clue what to do about it, other than blame the previous administration for its woes.
When it comes to the blame game Irish politicians are tops. What's needed now is someone who can help Ireland attract jobs by the thousands, not the paltry few we read about.
There is nobody in Ireland with the credibility, chutzpah or knowledge, that O'Dowd possesses on that front. I say, especially to the young Irish working class, "Give O'Dowd your vote, and there'll be no need for the boat."
College Point, New York
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