Don’t Fret, Citizen Smyth Is Here


From top: Guitarist and presidential hopeful Jimmy Smyth; Vanessa Foran

While you have been subjected to some serious Presidential downpours this week here on Broadsheet, I have absolutely no remorse in drenching you some more; and that is because I want everyone to take a longer look at Jimmy Smyth.

A few weeks ago on the Telly, I said “…you can allow yourself to be treated like a customer, or you can behave like a citizen….”

I was the very last person to expect that that spillage would harden last Thursday when we all met Jimmy Smyth and listened as he spoke about seeking a nomination as a Citizen Candidate for President of Ireland.

It was the first time the reference Citizen Candidate has actually been presented in front of me, and in a manner that has led to me taking a bigger interest in what has now become a race from one County Council to another, and between a growing field of potential candidates all looking for a nomination.

In my opinion we, as citizens, need to stop laughing, sneering and sniping at what this upcoming Presidential election has become, and especially now since we are actually having one.

Given the activism that has swelled into mass demonstrations in recent years, i.e. Water Protests and Referendum Landslides, it should have been no surprise that this election opened up like a car-boot sale.

But this new climate of citizen powered change gives us the opportunity now to change our political culture and our relationship with those in power.

The easy venue for the physical and proscribed function of Uachtarán na hÉireann is here

However, the fact that only main party candidates, mostly former politicians themselves, have only held this office, should be a strong enough signal that we must continue to demonstrate and flaunt our own strength of numbers.

That is not an overstatement, a party candidate gives politicians enormous power regardless of the grand promises held in Article 13 above.

At this point I must admit I am very uncomfortable with the knowledge that Michael D had already reached out to selected Oireachtas members to get their endorsement and support before he even informed Us, those he swore to represent, and especially those who voted for him, that he had changed his mind about being a single-term President.

Therefore, it is now time to recognise the function from the vantage point of the Citizen and not from the politicians who control who is allowed enter the election at all.

A Citizen President will promise us that they will represent the people of Ireland independently of politicians and the main parties.

A Citizen President can only represent Us and help Us keep our politicians and government in check.

If a Citizen Candidate like Jimmy Smyth is put to the people to decide, they know they are guaranteed a Presidential hopeful that will be capable of being totally impartial and genuinely independent of government and political institutions.

A Presidential hopeful that is not beholden to any influence beyond a single Irish Citizen.

Even in the debates and on the canvas, Jimmy Smyth, your Citizen Candidate, will be the change from the politically contrived and motivated, professionally drafted narratives and responses we have all wilfully accepted as the norm in Irish election campaigns, when we shouldn’t.

This is about taking our political foundations and making them democratic and there for Us, and not just the elected few, who are most likely to be following a party whip directive, that will arbitrate the shortlist for our vote.

The bloody nerve since another 7 years of a main party former Politician or any other main party candidate would set this Country back when we really have come so far already.

So, what do I know about Jimmy; well far less than any of his fans, family and friends.  But I know he is the real deal.  I know he is free from political influence, and I know he is genuine about his reasons for seeking the nomination to run for President.

I know he is not a spoiler nor is he seeking career advancement to his next gig.  I know he is not an opportunist, and I know for sure he is motivated only by himself, and his desire to do right by the ideals of a Republic.

I also know that Jimmy has entered this squall of a nomination process all by himself; Jimmy Smyth did not need to be approached, convinced or groomed by others.

Jimmy Smyth, so far,  in my opinion, is the only Presidential hopeful coming before us without scores to settle, or business interests to enhance, or a reputation to polish.

The real point about my endorsing Jimmy Smyth is there has never been a better time for the Irish citizen to have a candidate for President, who in the very true sense of a Republic, is one of Us; and for me that opportunity is best exploited by having the chance to let Jimmy go into the campaign and let the voter decide.

So come join the campaign and let’s Rock the Áras.

Vanessa Foran will be on Broadsheet on the Telly tonight at 10pm. She is a principal at Recovery Partners. Follow Vanessa on Twitter: @vef_pip.

Previously: Taking An Axe To The Aras

Top pic via KM’s Live Shots

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43 thoughts on “Don’t Fret, Citizen Smyth Is Here

  1. rotide

    Well that’s an awful lot of waffle.

    Vanessa, Could you provide an example please of what exactly the problem with the current status quo is. Is there an example of a sitting president acting under orders of a political party to effect change or to damage the people of the state?

    I’m pretty sure you don’t have an example of this.

    1. bisted

      …I’m pretty sure Vanessa will speak for herself but since you asked…the water fiasco has been the the most devisive issue in Irish politics since the Civil War. It has divided people, even families, like no other issue I remember. It merited mention at least from the president under whose watch it all emerged. He meekly signed the draconian water legislation with undue haste and without acknowledging the massive protest movement that opposed it. Why? Because his party demanded that he do what he was told.

      Higgins is standing again for election in the face of two blatant lies. Firstly, he stated time and time again that he would only stand for a single 7 year term. Secondly, he pretends to stand as an Independent when he is what he always was…a labour party factotum…but sure isn’t that the kind of thing that labour tend say in the run up to an election

      1. Cian

        Except for the teeny-tiny fact that the President cannot refuse to sign legislation.

        He could have referred that legislation to the Supreme Court – but as long as they said it was not breaking the constitution – he would have to sign it.

        1. Andrew

          He/She can refer it to the council of state also. This is an unelected group the includes former Taoisigh and other such ‘luminaries’.
          Deirdre Purcell was on the board of the Central Bank in the run up to our financial meltdown, don’t ask me why; so god knows who is considered ‘esteemed’ enough to be on the council of state.

          1. Cian

            yup. but regardless of what the council of state say s/he has two choices. Sign it, or send it to the Supreme Court.

            ARTICLE 31 2 tells you who is on the Council of State:
            The Council of State shall consist of the following members:
            i As ex-officio members: the Taoiseach, the Tánaiste, the Chief Justice, the President of the High Court, the Chairman of Dáil Éireann, the Chairman of Seanad Éireann, and the Attorney General.
            ii Every person able and willing to act as a member of the Council of State who shall have held the office of President, or the office of Taoiseach, or the office of Chief Justice.
            iii Such other persons, if any, as may be appointed by the President under this Article to be members of the Council of State. (max 7 peeps)

      2. rotide

        The president had nothing to do with the water legislation. He couldn’t have and didn’t have any impact on it whatsoever. It had nothing to do with the party telling him anything. That is entirely in your head.

        As to a second term, everyone is entitled to change their mind. I’m glad he did and I’m going to guess now that the majority of the electorate will be as well.

        In short, let Gemma do the conspiracy stuff and educate yourself on the role of the president.

      3. Rob_G

        … the water fiasco has been the the most devisive issue in Irish politics since the Civil War. It has divided people, even families…

        – Jesus wept…

    2. Vanessa off the Telly

      Hello Rotide
      Since you asked, it is my view that the problem with the current status quo, and thank you for staying in tune with the general yet informal theme of Jimmy’s campaign, is that the main parties retain control.

      The main parties get to decide who can enter the election at all.
      The main parties have access to funds and to media supports; which, whether you choose to believe that or not, decides the outcome.
      The main parties can groom their own candidate. You may not like to accept that, but a party inbred is the outcome, and that is a fact, and so to is the risk that they are biased. That risk is present so it must be recognised, how you choose to manage that risk is why it is called Democracy.

      Furthermore Rotide, at no stage have I, and particularly Jimmy, suggested a sitting President caused damage to the people of the State. However I would be of the view that Mary Robinson should have completed her term, regardless of what grander opportunities she had in the pipeline; she swore an oath that she resigned from for no other reason than her own professional career interests, and that is nothing more that shabby self-interest.

      Additionally Rotide, neither of us have promoted the notion that Jimmy Smyth could win the election outright. This is all about getting onto the ballot sheet.

      I have stepped up in this particular attempt because I think Jimmy Smyth should be part of the campaign, and not because Jimmy, or I, think President Higgins has failed or that he could be beaten, but only because I want the electorate to hear what Jimmy has to say.

      I want this Presidential Campaign be filled with debates and great speeches and rallies, right across the constituency and between Independent Candidates with new ideas, thoughts, and voices. Main Party Candidates cannot promise that.

      While main parties control the ballot sheet and the dominant media resources, elections in this Country will still be about their own politics, strategies and intentions; and sweet FA to do with the Citizen. Which is, in its own way, a betrayal of the role set out in Bunreacht na hÉireann as Uachtarán na hÉireann/ President of Ireland.
      Have a good weekend

  2. Cian

    All of our previous presidents (and presidential candidates) have been citizens – some of these citizens were also politicians.
    Most recently:
    2011 had 4 ‘politicians’ + 3 ‘citizens’ – political won
    2004 —
    1997 had 4 citizens and 1 political – ‘citizen’ won

        1. Frilly Keane

          Ah c’mon
          Nally and Labour’s nom Adi Roche
          Between them mind
          Collected less votes than Dana did

          T’was a 3 fillie race in 97
          So stop being an anorak about it

          1. rotide

            Implying this guy has a serious hope?

            You either count all the candidates or count the ones with serious chances, which at the moment is precisely 1.

          2. Frilly Keane

            where d’ya read I or anyone else was implying this guy has a serious hope?

            serious Rottie
            I’m getting worried about you bhoy

            have ya got yerself checked out lately

  3. hapfff

    hi vanessa. if you aren’t a citizen, you can’t run for President. hope that clears everything up xx

    1. Paulus

      ..if he had a good bass to work from he could treble his vote as a lot of people would pick him
      (Stopping now).

      1. Slightly Bemused

        But he may have an axe to grind, and start singing from his own songbook, causing disharmony in the arenas of power, distorting their political airs but staying in tune with the people and having his message reverb from the rafters!

          1. scottser

            You lot, listen to yourselves – a chorus of wah-wah-wah. Ye give me a pain in the flange..

  4. JD

    There is just too much op ed hot air in the world and this is another example.

    “The bloody nerve since another 7 years of a main party former Politician or any other main party candidate would set this Country back when we really have come so far already.” How would another 7 years of Michael D set the country back? Unsubstansiated waffle. People don’t have time to sneer at the this random motley crew looking for a crack the presidential race. People are getting on with their lives dealing with whatever challenges they face. The key election is the general election. This is a total sideshow.

  5. Rob_G

    “The bloody nerve since another 7 years of a main party former Politician or any other main party candidate would set this Country back when we really have come so far already….”

    Calm down dear; he still has to go before the people and be elected; he will only get in if he receives more votes than any of the other candidates, and that’s democracy, baby.

  6. Lilly

    Marian Keyes on Twitter, retweeted by Bill Maher. Not directed at Jimmy btw.

    ‘For all the embarrassingly ignorant people who want to be president of Ireland, listen to me
    Ireland is a PARLIAMENTARY democracy, NOT a PRESIDENTIAL democracy.
    Our President has NO legislative powers. NONE. Cannot even express a political opinion
    You won’t be the Irish Trump’

    1. Frilly Keane

      That first bit there
      For all the embarrassing ignorant people who want to be *President of Ireland

      Cheezus t’night
      Like she’s no Margaret Atwood herself

      * President requires a capital P btw

    2. :-Joe

      Every little helps though…

      I’d rather have a voice representing the people than one representing goldman sachs and the IMF…..


  7. :-Joe

    Vanessa Foran seems like an honest, decent sort to me….

    I don’t know her and vice versa but I can tell you that I have voted for local independent people who I think are similar to her before and I’ve been as far from let down as could be and nowhere near disappointment.

    In fact, I couldn’t have been happier, especially after wasting my time with labour and only slightly with the greens.

    If Jimmy Citizen Smyth is good enough for Ms Foran then I’ll back him too but on the condition that if anything dodgy needs to be heard publicly that should be known to Ms Foran personally then it needs it come out from her first.

    I believe in active citizenship and I’d rather have a houseless person off the street as president than an establishment figurine and apologist for corporate culture over social democracy.

    Mickey D Squee is mostly a good, honest and decent representative and also a safe benchmark but I think we can push it further…

    I think everybody should vote, treating each vote with the same importance as a general election and play the long game.

    It’s not a f-bombing red vs blue fight to the death in the next few months or the next four years, it’s the great on-going historical challenge of democracy.

    Vote for the best people regardless of their associations and likelihood of winning and becoming powerful in the short term and not only do you empower them and what is right but you also empower far more as many others to break free of the negative propaganda lies and conditioning over a longer time.

    The current standard establishment ff/fg/lab politician does not care about you or society at large and never will…

    Get over it, there’s no point in getting angry because that is the current group of middle mangers purpose in life at this moment in time. -Plenty more drone clones to follow and doing the exact same thing with just the slightest slight twist of fascion.

    It’s your purpose to educate yourself, take some responsibility, become an active citizen and vote as best you can.

    If you do this, even if you get it wrong sometimes you’re still going to be promoting real democracy and with local, honest, independents who try to change things for the better you’ll probably be at least three out of four times better off in the long term…

    Vote for your local independents and back them. support them and hold them accountable.


    WHY NOT… ???


    1. Vanessa off the Telly

      Hi -Joe
      I think I’m safe in assuming you’re not that commenter in the ChatPit who wants me sacked.

      It would be lovely to have you vote for Jimmy Smyth and have you support his campaign. However Jimmy must get on the ticket first; until then he is a hopeful candidate clocking up milage between County Councils.

      So please, if you are in a position to, canvas your local Councillors and Oireachtas members.

      If anyone would like a copy of Jimmy Smyth’s intended address to the County Councillers of Ireland; please plug in your email address below.

      Thanks again -Joe

    2. Cian

      If we want the President to be a ‘Seán Doe’ (Or Síle Doe) “average” citizen, then why isn’t there a lottery to choose someone at random to become President? It could work in the same was as jury-duty.

      Or perhaps we just want to blindly follow the American route and get a non-politician as President. That is working wonders for them…

      1. Spaghetti Hoop

        Very easy for a country to be judged on the folk they elect to lead it.
        I would expect my prez to have some knowledge of the constitution plus a stint in public office. So far we have a rock guitarist and a couple of dragons with neither. Paltry pickings.

  8. Jimmy Smyth

    Heya Spaghetti Hoop!
    Just to clear a few things up.
    Where did you get the idea that I know nothing of our Constitution? Part of my platform is to initiate change to same re Articles 47/48. I’ve also got two Grammy nominations and A Post Grad in Pedagogy. I lectured at Degree Level for six years. AND. Can play other stuff besides Rock. So i can.

    Please like me.

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