Monday, December 5, 2011

Six Tips for Michael D Higgins

Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins
On November 11th, Michael D Higgins was finally sworn in as Uachtarán na hÉireann, and his election has been broadly welcomed.

Changing Ireland caught up with various people in the Community and Voluntary sectors, and asked them a couple of short questions about our new poet President.

Trevor Quinn, SIPTU

What kind of president do you think Micheal D will make?

I think he’ll make an excellent president. He’s a fair man, a straight talker and he understands the needs of people. He’s not one of those politicians in an ivory tower.

What advice would you give to him?

To follow through with his policies of social inclusion. Work to protect communities, whose heart is being ripped out at the moment.

What is your favourite Michael D speech?

My favourite Michael D speech is one of his last ones, where he spoke out against the government lowering the minimum wage. It was a fantastic oration and it came from the heart. It showed what kind of man he is, that it pains him when Irish people are hurting.

Anne Fitzpatrick, Community Worker Dodder Valley Partnership

What kind of President do you think Michael D will make?

I don't know if he'll be able to revolutionize the office of like Mary McAleese and Mary Robinson, though he did quite well as a Labour Party minister.

He'll be make a good ambassador for Ireland, I'd say, because of his general knowledge in terms of international and European affairs.

What is your favourite speech of his?

His final speech was one of the best to ever come out of the Dáil.

If you were to give one piece of advice to Michael D, what would it be?

Stay in touch with the people on the ground.
Rachel Mullen
Rachel Mullen – CoordinatorEquality Rights Alliance

What kind of President do you think Michael D will make?

It’s a time of unprecedented crisis and he’s the President that Ireland needs right now. I believe he’ll inspire hope and empower a country where people are uncertain and fearful about the future. I’m certain that the values he has always lived by- inclusivity, equality and respect for others, will be emphasised throughout his seven years.

What's your favourite Michael D poem?

His poem ‘When Will My time Come’ is beautiful. There is a great line in it: ‘When my time comes, I will have made my journey.’

If you were to give one piece of advice to Michael D, now that he's president, what would it be?

To enjoy the journey. He deserves it.
Manus Bree
Manus Bree, Community Worker Ballymun Whitehall Area Partnership

What kind of a President do you think Michael D will make?

An Inspiring one, I think. He’s very much concerned with the marginalised in society. The keystone of his Presidency will be giving them a voice.

What piece of advice would you give him, now that he’s President?

Reach out to parts of communities that aren’t being listened to or included, for instance the poor and the mentally and physically disabled. And I’m sure he will do that. Also, I’d tell him to enjoy it. He’s in his 70s now, and too often in this society we dismiss the contributions elderly people can make. He can provide a model for older people.

Is there anything that struck you from your experiences meeting Michael D?

He’s a very genuine man and a great listener, two important things for the role. He’s passionate and wears his strong beliefs on his sleeve. His academic background also gives him an ability to see the macro, and put policies into context. It’ll be great for the volunteering sector having a man like that as our President.

Ger Doyle, Community Worker and Social Enterprise Advisor

What kind of President do you think Michael D will make?

I think he’ll shift the thinking in Ireland from individualism to equality. This is key, because research shows that equality benefits all sectors of society.

What one piece of advice would you give to Michael D now that he is President?

He should highlight the need for a new economic model based on sustainability rather than profit for the private sector. He can set the tone for that by visiting certain community projects, and promoting the work of people like Peadar King, Maeve Murphy and other academics rather than economists like Colm McCarthy and David McWilliams.

Any Michael D moments that stand out for you?

When he had that debate with the American Michael Graham on George Hook’s show, I thought he was very impressive, very well briefed. He wasn’t afraid to express himself as a man of the left, and showed up the Tea Party for the crass organization that it is. 
Pat Walshe (Connemara FM)
Pat Walshe – Radio Manager, Connemara FM

What kind of president do you think Michael D will make?

He’ll make a wonderful President. He has it all, the personality, and the cultural aspect, while his experience international will stand us in great stead. His values are ones that we can all share.

What is your favourite Michael D poem?

I don’t think poetry is one of his strong points. He’s a great speaker, though, and really enthusiastic in his speeches.

What struck you from your own experiences of meeting Michael D?

He’s our local TD and we’ve interviewed him several times. He’s always available – never refuses to do an interview. We’re hoping to get an interview with him soon. He’s shyer than you’d think and can get very nervous before going on the air. Brilliant with a crowd though – he’s an audience man.

What piece of advice would you give Michael D now that he is President?

To be himself. Simple as that.

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