The academic presidency
It may have been noticed by some observers that Ireland now appears to consider academic experience to be a requirement for the Head of State. Ever since Paddy Hillery’s rather quiet presidency came to an end in 1990, the President has been a former academic. Furthermore, the two candidates likely to be the frontrunners this time – David Norris and Michael D. Higgins – are also both former academics.
The role of the head of state, when it is not combined with that of head of government as it is in the United States and France for example, is largely about developing and sharing the national narrative, and it is at the very least arguable that good academics have the right background for this. It is also good – or so I think at any rate – that the academic profession is able in this way to demonstrate this important contribution to national welfare. So I say, let the tradition of having an academic head of state continue; and maybe let it spread.