David Norris recording his own eulogy to be played at funeral
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Here's a really weird story from Ireland to end the weekend with.
Senator David Norris, one of Ireland's most outspoken gay-rights activists, has said that not only has he planned out his own funeral, he's also started recording his own eulogy, to be played as his coffin is buried into the ground.
The eccentric Senator is mustering support through a vigorous PR and Facebook campaign to become Ireland's first openly gay President.
How this fits into that overall campaign is anyone's guess; it could just be a publicity stunt designed to attract the media's attention to his campaign for President, or else he could just genuinely be thinking morbidly ahead to his funeral arrangements at this stage in his life.
Like many Irish, I've got very mixed feelings about the Senator's campaign for President, after this episode even more so.
He, perhaps with some exaggerating from the media, is basing his campaign quite largely on the fact that he's openly gay, and the fact that if elected he would become Ireland's first openly gay President.
Make what you want of that - and most people will undoubtedly support that in much the same way as they supported Obama becoming America's first black President - but how much does, or should, a President's sexual persuasion have to do with his or her fitness for office? How central a role does it deserve in their manifesto?
The main question to be asked of David Norris,including by the media, is is he capable of being Ireland's main figurehead, of representing Ireland well abroad, and of conveying a generally positive image of the country, which is effectively what the role of President involves in Ireland.
I think that a man who's not only - by his own admission - 'meticulously' prepared his funeral, but is also in the process of recording his own funeral eulogy, isn't the sort of person you'd want instated as President of Antartica, never mind Ireland.
If Norris were elected President, though, his quirkiness, for want of a better word, would make him a fairly dramatic change from the previous two Presidents we've had.
Both current incumbent Mary McAleese and her predecessor Mary Robinson were from fairly conventional legal backgrounds and seem to have done a reasonably good job at representing Ireland as a country.
They did so in a quiet and conventional fashion, and no doubt do not have a pre-recorded mp3 of their own funeral eulogies hidden somewhere on their iPods (if Presidents have such things).
For that reason alone I'd be happier to see McAleese re-elected than Norris get the job, although given a provision in the Irish Constitution this is not in practice possible.
Norris would certainly be an 'interesting' choice of President, and I'm sure many would feel that he'd be a very good one, but the plain old vanilla Robinson/McAleese sounds better to me than having a guy who's planning his own funeral arrangements before he's even retired!