By Jane Suiter
The Irish Times today editorialises on the role of the Presidency. It raises the issues of an expansion of powers of the presidency pointing out that the “President has clear constitutional obligations and duties, few independent functions and can act only on the advice of the government. In 1973, Erskine Childers, in announcing his candidature for the Presidency, made it clear that he wished to expand “the dimension and character” of the office. However his sudden death after two years in office, and the lack of enthusiasm shown by the government for a more independent minded President, meant little progress was made towards that goal”. This is still the case.
There is also the issue of nominations which as we know are limited to 20 Oireachtas members or four county councils, ought to there also be a plebiscite option or other nomination method?
The current government has also said it wishes to see the term of the Presidency decreased which many would argue is not real reform and has also mooted the idea of allowing the Diaspora to vote in the election, which may be welcome. But is it worth considering reforms which would maintain the status of the Presidency yet allow for increased executive oversight or other function?