Statement by Gay Mitchell, MEP confirming that he will seek the Fine Gael nomination for President of Ireland – 10th June, 2011

June 10, 2011  

I have been giving serious consideration to the possibility of running for President. Yesterday I attended the funeral of Declan Costello whose political principles and approach to public service convinced me to join Fine Gael at the age of 16. Since then my political conviction is informed by a Christian Democratic ethos, based on four pillars: rights and responsibilities, enterprise and social justice.

I want to advance this ethos in public life and I see the Presidency as another way of doing so. My belief is that this ethos, if applied sensibly, will help equip Ireland to overcome some of our present economic and ethical difficulties and make us a country which others will want to emulate. I have decided to seek the Fine Gael nomination for the Presidency and an endorsement of these values.

A Republic which nurtures a just society is one, in my view, where the principles of rights and responsibilities, and enterprise and social justice are intertwined. It is easy to talk of rights and social justice but rights bring with them responsibilities for ourselves and others. Social justice through accessible education and health, for example, can be provided only if the enterprising spirit is encouraged so as to create the wealth to pay for these services. This is not a question of unregulated greed – we can see where that got us – there must be rules for enterprise to thrive. A person who by the sweat of his/her brow makes a real effort should harvest the product of what they have sown, thus giving incentive and encouraging innovation.

I believe in unity in diversity, but not a diversity that includes only the politically correct. Respect must be mutual so as to be really inclusive and tolerant.

This unity in diversity should apply to all the people of the Island, including those with an Irish, Irish and British, and Irish and European identity. We must be prepared to end the mental partition that segregates the people of Ireland, by respecting those who see things from a different perspective. Having completed a degree in Irish Political Studies at Queen’s University Belfast, I am convinced that the whole of the Island can pull together to our mutual benefit.

60m people died in Europe in the two world wars of the first half of the 20th century. Joining the EU was by far the best thing Ireland did internationally. We have learned to live together, it is not a perfect arrangement and at times it is overpowering. We can influence that power balance by taking time, networking, persuading, meeting and greeting, and impressing with intelligent argument. I was for 26 years a TD, I was Lord Mayor of Dublin, Director of Elections for four European referenda, Chairperson of the European and the Public Accounts Committees, twice foreign affairs spokesperson for Fine Gael, Minister for European Affairs, and I am now an MEP. I want to play my part in ensuring that Ireland’s views are heard where it matters and that they are heeded. This may require more perspiration than inspiration and I believe I have the experience and the stamina to advance Ireland’s case.

In the developing world 23,000 children die every day. The good news is that this used to be 36,000 and we can further reduce this number dramatically. I have dedicated much of my time in Parliament to leading on this issue. As the world’s population expands in the southern hemisphere we can make a thriving developing world our trading partner and we will not then be the recipients of forced migration. We have no history of colonial possession, we have a proud history of missionaries and NGO´s working in the developing world. As President I would like to play a role where Ireland gives leadership to the world on this crucial issue. We have the credentials to do so.

Making legislation is not the role of the President but he or she,by networking with the Community, can make a visual statement about the type of inclusion and forward looking society we can be.

I hope that by example I can help others to start on a new journey in search of values that will take us through 2016 and all that iconic year will stand for. I want to be President of an Ireland that has a true Republican spirit.

My life’s journey has taken me from the home of my widowed mother in Inchicore to the Dáil, the Mansion House, Iveagh House and Brussels. From the President’s study in the Aras, which I visited many times as Minister, the floodlights of C.I.E. Works, where I worked as a boy, are visible as a clear landmark. If I am elected President this landmark shall be a daily reminder of where I came from and that my sworn duty is to serve the welfare of the people as well as to uphold the Constitution and the law.