Irish presidential election thrown wide open by unpopular Fine Gael pick of Gay Mitchell


Fine Gael have picked the least popular candidate from their ranks to run for president of Ireland in Gay Mitchell pictured center above with Prime Minister Enda Kenny after his election.

His selection throws the race for president of Ireland wide open again.

It was Fine Gael's to lose and they may just have.

The bookmaker's immediate reaction was to make Labor's Michael D. Higgins favorite at 7/4 with David Norris second favorite at 15/8 and Gay Mitchell only third choice at 9/4.

They are the party in power and by far the most popular but they have picked a man who will forever be known as ' the evil of two lessers.'

That is how a political opponent memorably described him when comparing Gay Mitchell and his late brother Jim when both were active in politics.

The party leadership knew this and tried with might and main to stop him but they failed miserably.

They imported a candidate,Pat Cox, who just recently joined the party and was a former European Parliament president.

However Cox never caught on with the party faithful.

How unpopular is Mitchell? Well I beat him in a national opinion poll when I was exactly one day in the race during my short-lived candidacy last month, as did every other candidate.

Here is how the Sunday Independent reported on the Prime Minister's reaction to Mitchell's victory.

"TAOISEACH Enda Kenny slumped and could barely contain his disappointment at the moment Gay Mitchell was announced as Fine Gael's Presidential nominee at a special party convention yesterday.

"Mr Kenny's preferred candidate, Pat Cox, was eliminated after the first count after receiving less than 25 per cent of the vote. Mr Mitchell comfortably won on the second count, 55 per cent to 45 per cent, ahead of Mairead McGuinness, at the convention held at the Regency Hotel, Dublin. The result was announced shortly after 5pm, somewhat earlier than had been anticipated.

"A clearly unimpressed Mr Kenny spoke sternly to Mr Mitchell after a press conference, during which Mr Mitchell revealed he was to take a week's holidays.

Making clear his displeasure to Mr Mitchell in front of reporters, Mr Kenny said: "Take your holidays and enjoy it because, believe you me, when you come back you better be ready for one hell of a campaign."

That says it all ----The problem with Mitchell is not that he is not an astute politician -- he certainly is.

Rather he is too associated with the black arts, a consummate in-fighter who won the nomination by running a clever campaign aimed at his party grassroots and blackening his opponents as blow ins.

He portrayed his two opponents as Johnny come latelies to the party, which they were and he won as a result.

But the president of Ireland is not a job that people want political fixers in.

They want someone with the style of a Mary Robinson or Mary McAleese who can help the country focus on the vision thing as President Bush once described it.

Mitchell could no doubt get your plumbing fixed but he won't inspire anybody.

Which is why Labor Party candidate Micheal D Higgins is likely the favorite now to win.

He has that vision and intellect, his major drawback is his age at 71.

David Norris, the gay independent candidate, will also be happy at the Fine Gael outcome feeling it improves his chances.

It will be a fascinating election.

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