When he was first elected as Leader of Fianna Fáil, Micheal Martin said “the time had come when we should open up government to expertise from outside” In my view this approach should also extend to the office of President and in particular the nomination of candidates in the forthcoming contest. Tonight Sean Gallagher put his name in the ring, he is a man I have met at a number of charity and community functions and on each occasion when he spoke, he lifted my heart a little and caused me to pause for thought. I was surprised at the time to hear that his journey had started in youth centres rather than board rooms and I believe that this unique combination of social and business entrepreneurship is something our nation needs over the next seven years. More importantly than all of that is his understanding of leadership and of the benefits that strong leadership can bring.
In my view Michael Martin and Enda Kenny should allow the presidential nomination process to work as it was designed in the 1937 constitution. Councils around the country should be free to nominate candidates on merit rather than merely on party membership and party whips should not be imposed. At this juncture, I am not sure if Fianna Fáil will have a nominee, that will be a matter for the party to decide, but I believe many people who support the centre ground of Irish politics will be attracted to Sean Gallagher’s campaign and I see merit in giving candidates from outside the political sphere an opportunity to contest what is a non-party-political office.