|“Presidential Candidate Gay Mitchell canvassing inBlanchardstown with former Taoiseach John Bruton”Pic. Maxwells Dublin no repro fee|
Gay has been one of my best friends in political life over many years, and it was a real pleasure to be out on the hustings with him again.
Gay was first elected to the Dail in 1981. He was Minister for European Affairs in the Office of the Taoiseach, when I held the latter office from 1994 to 1997. He has also been Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, where he has been relentless in tracking down the waste of taxpayer’s money wherever it occurs.
I also canvassed for him in 2004, when he first ran for the European Parliament, of which he has since become an extremely effective member.
Today, we visited areas close to my own home in County Meath, namely Kilbride, Culmullen, Kilcloon, Dunboyne and Dunshaughlin. In recent weeks, I have already canvassed with him in Blanchardstown, Palmerstown and Dundrum .
Gay was very well received everywhere he went. Many people knew him personally. Some were former neighbours of his from Inchicore. Others had worked with him, or with members of his family, and many remember his late brother Jim with great affection.
Gay has family connections in Meath, the Clarke family from Athboy, and his mother in law now lives in Mullagh, which is on the Cavan/Meath border. In Irish political life, these sort of local connections are important. They bridge the gap between politicians and people.
THE RIGHT COMBINATION OF AGE AND EXPERIENCE
I believe Gay Mitchell has the right combination of age, and experience, to do the job of President well for the seven year term of the office required in the constitution.
Gay Mitchell is young enough to be able to undertake the physically demanding tasks we expect our President to fill, over the full seven year term. Since the Presidency of the late Erskine Childers, who set a very demanding pace, we have expected the President to traverse the world, and the country, on a daily basis, and to offer encouragement and inspiration to all.
Gay’s experience as a very effective member of the European Parliament is very relevant to Ireland’s needs in 2011 and beyond. At the moment, Ireland depends on the EU institutions to fund day to day spending and to bridge the gap that exists between what the Government spends, and what it collects, on a daily basis.
If other EU countries were not providing us with bridging finance, we would have to close services and stop issuing pay cheques overnight. So t would be a sensible decision for the Irish people to elect as President someone who understands the way other EU countries think, who knows their key decision makers personally, and who shares their commitment to EU integration.
Gay Mitchell has been a member of the Economic and Monetary Committee of the European Parliament so he knows all the key European players who will have such a big influence on Ireland’s policies over the next two or three years. As President, he would be able to use these contacts to assist the Government in its work.
Gay Mitchell’s website is www.gaymitchell2011.com