Thursday 27 October 2016

Anna Nolan: Disaster of vote on president's age shows politicians need to grow up

Art Garfunkel
Miriam O'Callaghan

Last weekend saw an amazing show of support by Ireland for the gay and lesbian community.

After an impeccable campaign, led by Yes Equality, same-sex marriage was overwhelmingly given the thumbs-up by the public.

It was a campaign that will go down in history. It inspired people to travel from around the world to their home towns in Ireland to vote.

It motivated people, who had never been involved in anything remotely political, to go out and knock on doors. It led 66,000 new voters to register.

Ireland discussed, debated and dissected a proposed change to our constitution.

No stone was left unturned and a few were even thrown. But after reflection and consideration, the nation had its say.

As for the other yoke? The other slip of paper you were handed last Friday?

What a disaster. We were asked to consider lowering the age that a person could put themselves forward for President from 35 to 21.

The country gave an overwhelming 'No' and it was no surprise.

Did you have a conversation about the age vote? You might have.

But I doubt it went on for more than five minutes. I had one conversation with someone about this part of the referendum. It went something like this.

Me: "What are you voting for the President age thingy?" Friend: "Yes." Me: "Me too." Friend: "Cool."

This vote came in like a whisper and went out just as silently. It stank of 'couldn't-be-arsed', from everyone.

The politicians couldn't be arsed talking about it. No one was going to win a popularity contest for championing this amendment.

But if so many young people travelled home, registered and went to the polling stations, why didn't they want a younger president?

I can't say for sure. But I imagine we all know what the years between 20 and 30 are like.

They are an extension of our teenage years, just with more responsibility.

We come to terms with adulthood, we begin to put down roots and we gradually grow up.

Essentially for most, the 20s is not the time to be the head of state. More often than not, in our 20s we're in a state.

I'm not saying that perhaps there is some wonder woman or man out there, bright and articulate, who is under the age of 35.

But we want them to live a little, love a little, lie a little before they decide to go forward for one of the most important jobs in Ireland.

Whatever politicians proposed this amendment are probably now skulking around the place, like children.

They will need to grow up fast to deal with the fact that they made a hames of the presidential-age referendum.


Grumpy Art needs to build a bridge (over troubled water) and get over it

I love a good celebrity spat. Not the silly stuff we read between Louis and Cheryl. I'm talking about good old-fashioned bitterness that has been fermenting for years.

 Art Garfunkel

Like the feeling Art Garfunkel clearly has towards his old pal Paul Simon.

I read recently that Art is a tad angry with his old partner. Angry since 1970, when they split up. In an interview this week he's claimed that Simon has a Napoleon complex and asked his one-time colleague: "How can you walk away from this lucky place on top of the world, Paul? What's going on with you, you idiot? How could you let that go, jerk?"

When I was young, my older sisters played all of Simon and Garfunkel's songs. Along with Donovan, Kate Bush and The Beatles, my earliest musical memories were of these two. The tall one with the fuzzy hair, the small one playing the guitar.

But even as an eight-year-old, I knew that the smaller one was the star. The taller fuzzy-haired one always looked a little awkward, not as handsome. I read on the back of the album that Simon wrote the tunes, so eight-year-old me knows who had the brains.

I was only thinking the other day of their song Old Friends. How far from the sentiment of that song is the reality?

Art Garfunkel wanted a year off from the duo in 1970, when they were at the height of their career.

Paul Simon was a bit miffed, went off on his own, and became hugely successful.

Unfortunately there is a perception that Art was the lesser of the two. But that is a complete misconception. His voice was perfect with Paul's and vice versa. Just listen to A Hazy Shade of Winter - it might not have the most complex harmonies, but the two voices merge into one magical sound.

Maybe if Art had stuck with Paul he might not be seen by most as "the curly-haired one who sang Bridge Over Troubled Water", and obviously he wouldn't be the bitter guy he is today.

Polishing off my aura (and nibbles)

So I'm off to align my chakras and polish my aura next weekend. Yes, I am returning to yoga after a few years in the non-yoga desert - and I'm heading away for a weekend to a retreat. Lord help me. On the one hand, I'm very excited. 


On the other hand, now that I am a bit older and a bit more cynical, certain things are making me nervous. I have to share a room with a stranger. I have to be up one morning at 6.30am. Most terrifying of all, I will be eating vegetarian food. Ah well, I'm just going to hand myself over the yoga gods and see what happens. (I might just pack a few slices of ham and crackers for back up!)


Miriam shines in TV and red carpet

Miriam O'Callaghan

Miriam O'Callaghan looked a million dollars at the IFTAs last Sunday. I had emailed her the day before to tell her that her broadcasting over the last week was incredible.

She chaired the final Prime Time referendum debate with intelligence and she presented the live RTE broadcast from Dublin Castle (inset) effortlessly.

Her ability on results day to move from serious questioning to humorous banter was so impressive. She was her usual humble self in her response to my email. Miriam is at the top of her game and she shone at the IFTAs.

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