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Aras electoral system needs to be changed

Roman citizens were appeased with bread and bullfights in 123BC; this autumn in Ireland we are enduring an election featuring jugglers, contortionists, mime, one disappearing-then-returning act of magic and lots of stage-fighting.

But there has been no real debate and it is too late to change anything. The pathetic circus will drag on for seven more days and in 2018 this year's winner will probably be returned without contest for a second term.

An outgoing first-term Irish president has not been challenged in an election for 45 years. Presidential elections should be opportunities every seven years for meaningful public debate about national direction and about the Irish state's outlook in the world.

The electoral system negates this; this autumn the competing messages of too many candidates are frankly mesmerising and complicated.

A meaningful presidential election and a meaningful presidency require a maximum of two, possibly three, candidates to be preceded by an electoral round-robin.

It is time to amend the Republic's Presidential Elections Act (1993). Or else shut down the Aras.

PAUL HICKEY

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