Belfast Telegraph

Uncle Gaybo will be hard to beat if he runs for president

By Liam Clarke

Gay Byrne as president could just provide the political comfort food which the Irish electorate is craving.

The Irish presidency used to be regarded as the equivalent of a gold watch for an elderly gent at the end of a career of public service.

Mary Robinson broke that mould when she saw off Brian Lenihan. That began a process of re-inventing Ireland which was continued by Mary McAleese through the Celtic Tiger years.

Now, in the depth of economic depression, it looks as if people are looking for reassurance, not novelty, and the good ole guys may get another chance.

The two hot favourites for office are Michael D Higgins of Labour (70) and, if he decides to go for it, Gay Byrne (77, left).

Michael D Higgins is a radical. Uncle Gaybo, on the other hand, provides the chicken soup for the soul the nation craves.

Generations of RTE viewers went to bed feeling good after their weekly dose of The Late, Late Show.

Fianna Fail is still a toxic brand after being held responsible for the collapse of the banking sector.

But, if Byrne stands as an independent, the party could provide him with the machine he needs.

Labour did the same with Mary Robinson and it led to a revival of the party's fortunes.

If Gaybo runs, he will be hard to beat.

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