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Monday 18 December 2017

Anna Nolan: Are we really ready for this unnervingly camp, 'posh West Brit'-talking gay man as President?

I'd love it, but even though David Norris says we've come a long way, I have my doubts...

Is David Norris really the right man to be the next President of Ireland? He has expressed his interest in running for the post and his high profile will certainly get people talking. But is Ireland ready for a gay man to be our head of state?

There are a lot of things going against Norris. The obvious one of being gay might not be an issue to those close to him in politics and in other liberal fields. But outside these worlds, people are entertained yet unnerved by his campness, his openness to his sexuality and the fact that if he were to bring a partner back to the Aras, it would not be a lady, but a man.

We still live in a very homophobic society. We are happy to see gay men and women exist in certain spheres, at a distance, but not too close to home.

Norris has said that he feels Ireland has come a long way. I have to disagree. People are still very scared about openly gay men, and having a gay President would send shivers down the spines of traditional Catholic voters.

David has become something of a performer in all areas of his life. In the Seanad, his speeches are intelligent and amusing. His broadcasting -- whether on Newstalk as host, or on political programmes as guest, is colourful and passionate. But some feel that he always needs to act the maggot, play the fool, so as to get noticed.

He has done so many stunts and promotions that he is viewed at times as being a spectacle rather than a hardcore politician. And he knows the game of publicity more than most out there.

And he doesn't sound Irish.

I know that sounds dreadful, but Irish people want to hear a good strong Irish accent when it comes to their political leaders.

I was at a function last week, sitting beside a well known politician. When I told a friend the following day who I was speaking to, they referred to him as "Oh that posh West Brit".

But 20 years ago, people thought Mary Robinson had no chance of being President. People felt her ambition, gender, intellectualism, straight talking approach would go against her. They said she was cold.

The fact that she was born into a family that had a historical mix of Irish republicans and loyalists to the British monarchy divided many. They felt that she would not fit into the role. But Mary redefined the role.

David Norris's biggest task is to re-define the role of Irish President. For me, he could be the best man for the job - after all, he is "recession friendly". His passion, commitment -- and his huge, warm personality would help us out of this dark period.

Nothing puts a smile on my face more than the idea of seeing Norris talking to heads of state about this wonderful country.

Are we ready to embrace someone who doesn't fit the traditional Irish, straight, married with children set up? We shall wait and see.

Call me a freak, but talent TV made my whole weekend

I’M a talent show freak. As I watched two of them this weekend, I felt the emotions one might feel watching a Verdi opera – love, sadness, revulsion, despair, vindication.

On the Late Late Show we got to choose our Eurovision song. I love Eurovision. Ever since I heard A-Ba-Ni-Bi win for Israel, I knew that this contest touched the inner drama queen inside me.

So when Niamh Kavanagh sang her song, I thought, thanks be to God. Her song was of the old-school ballad brigade. My spirits were lifted and I bet €50 on her.

Then we had the All Ireland Talent Show.

It has become my Sunday night cocoa. It makes me feel safe, grounded and totally at ease with passing bitter judgment on young and aged performers.

It might be local schmocal, it might suffer from the West voting like they are about to be wiped out, but it offers drama -- talentless confidence and talent-full naivety.

My two favourite disasters were the young guy who dressed like Freddie Mercury and wore a false moustache. He must have been around five years of age, dressed in tight white trousers, a red cropped military jacket and sung into the half microphone stand like Freddie did.

The second biggest laugh I had during the show was the marching band from Donegal. The stage is around four times the size of a big sitting room. This poor marching band, at least 30 of them, came on and marched the shortest, tiniest steps ever. I am sure they were scraping each other's heels.

I cried during the second semi-final when they told me that poor, young Chloe's dad had to work in Edinburgh.

I shouted at the television when young Ben sang a ridiculous Whiter Shade Of Pale. I clapped along to the gorgeous David as he looked down the camera at me, and winked. I spent five texts worth of money on Niamh and five on David.

I might have lost, but the shows definitely won.

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