The ghosts of the men and women of 1916 will sleep easier this Halloween weekend knowing that Michael D. Higgins is the president who will preside over the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.

The newly elected president of Ireland is a poet like Padraig Pearse and Joseph Plunkett two of the signatories of the famous proclamation, the founding document of the Irish state.

He is a leading Labor figure like a third, James Connolly and the fact that he attained power with a powerful assist from Sinn Fein would no doubt be of great interest to that parties founders.

He certainly has a track record in government that entitles him to stand apart.

When Minister for Arts and Culture he ended Section 31 the odious legislation that prevented Sinn Fein from being heard on the Irish airwaves during much of The Troubles.

He also established TG4, the All-Irish language television station that has been an outstanding success since it was established in 1996.

A fluent speaker of Gaelic he was the only candidate of the seven who ran who was able to converse in it.

In addition he reinvigorated the Irish Film Board leading to a glorious era when Irish film was constantly in the forefront of Oscar races and underwent a complete renaissance.

In person Higgins is an engaging character, able and willing to discuss in his very distinctive Clare accent, the matters of the day.

I don’t know him that well but have always found him a man with a deep sense of the Diaspora and the issues that confront the Irish abroad.

His election came after the Irish electorate at the last minute decided that steady hand rather than a new beginning was the better choice.

Sean Gallagher looked home and hosed. A former reality TV star and businessman he was as unalike Higgins as any two contenders could be.

But he was undermined by a dreadful gaffe on the last television debate when his very character came into question and he was not able to dispense with the barrage of late accusations about his ties to money men and the failed policies of Fianna Fail.

At the last second the voters switched to Higgins, the mercurial 70-year-old who was always going to be the safe pair of hands.

If his speech after he was elected is any barometer he will be that and more.

He is a passionate Irishman, an idealist and a proponent of the less well off in society, a man who came from a tough background himself who was literally farmed out to relatives at a young age because of his father’s alcoholism.

In this day and age Ireland needs a leader like that, a man with a common touch.

Here’s to his success.