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What a day for Herald's Fergus - robbed, then elected President

BERNARDO'S chief and Herald columnist Fergus Finlay missed the news that he had been voted the most popular choice to succeed Mary McAleese.

The Liveline listeners' favourite was cleaning up broken glass after his car was broken into in the city -- without realising he had topped a Presidential poll of some 10,000 callers to Joe Duffy's show.

"I'm not often speechless," said a stunned Fergus, "but something like that forces you to think, doesn't it?"

Thousands of listeners to Liveline had responded to a poll conducted over the duration of the show, eliminating various candidates to succeed President McAleese when her term ends next year.

About 10,000 voters helped to eliminate a number of other distinguished candidates before deciding that Fergus should be given the responsibility. "I thought it was a joke at first," he said. "I'd been cleaning up after some friendly citizen had smashed the passenger window of my car and helped himself to the contents and the phone began hopping."

While not ruling himself out of the forthcoming race, Fergus added: "The important thing is to get out, get involved and start demanding change."