Several years ago, the Irish press was rife with speculation about the rumoured presidential ambitions of one of its own: namely Miriam O’Callaghan, the popular RTÉ host and current affairs presenter. Given her high profile and strong family links to Fianna Fáil, the Foxrock journalist certainly seemed to be an ideal choice for the centre-right party as it floundered from one possible candidate to another during the summer and autumn of 2011. However, when asked by UCD’s in-house magazine to comment on the claims, the broadcaster put the suggestion on the long finger with some carefully chosen words:
It’s such an extraordinarily important role. I am flattered and honoured. I know this sounds like PR, that anyone would consider me for it. I said I wouldn’t stand because my youngest is five and I don’t want a Euan Blair scenario where one of my kids could be falling out of Wesley with too much Lucozade on them. You do have to think of that. I did say that if people still like me in seven years, you never know
Since then, O’Callaghan has featured in countless articles discussing the most likely public figure to succeed Michael D. Higgins in Áras an Uachtaráin, based upon the strong presumption that the veteran left-winger would serve only one seven-year term in office. In 2015 the Mirror reported that the friends of the television star were claiming:
…that she has her eyes firmly back on the Aras and is positioning herself for the role when it becomes vacant in 2018.
A pal revealed: “As 2018 approaches, her mind has been increasingly wandering towards the possibilities.
“I don’t think anyone would be surprised that Miriam would like to be President one day. She was born for that office.
“She is a strong, capable and very popular woman like female Presidents Mary Robinson and Mary McAleese before her and she really is the darling of the nation.
“Miriam is trusted, competent and extremely likeable and no one could disagree that she’d be a fabulous ambassador for Ireland.”
In December 2017, her potential candidacy became the subject of further prominent discussion in the print and online media after renewed expressions of interest by Fianna Fáil, as the pop-culture website Dublin Live noted:
RTE presenter Miriam O’Callaghan has been installed as the joint-favourite to succeed Michael D. Higgins as the next President of Ireland.
The broadcaster recently emerged as a surprise potential candidate for the role after her name was touted by a number of Fianna Fail councillors.
The 57 year-old has family ties to the party, with her brother Jim O’Callaghan currently a TD for the party representing the Dublin Bay South constituency.
Now the Irish Independent newspaper, edited by Fionnán Sheahan, husband of Fianna Fáil’s serial electoral failure Averil Power, has put the exorbitantly-paid celebrity to the fore again on its list of likely presidential hopefuls for 2018.
…broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan has dramatically fuelled speculation she is to run in the presidential election by announcing she is taking a break from her summer chat show.
Last night when contacted by the Irish Independent, Ms O’Callaghan did not comment on whether she intends to run for the presidency.
In fairness to O’Callaghan, her impeccable middle-class background, university education in Irish and European law, and entirely conventional journalistic career in Ireland and Britain, makes her a very credible candidate for the largely ceremonial office of Uachtarán na hÉireann. She also brings an added Thirty-Two County frisson to the role in the figure of her husband, Steven Carson. A Protestant from East Belfast, whose mother was a founding member of the Alliance Party of Northern Ireland, a liberal pro-union grouping, he currently works for the BBC in Scotland, adding another dimension to her candidacy. Certainly, if the supposed “Mother of the Nation” and her media supporters have been grooming the Irish electorate for the past several years to smooth her path to the presidency they have done a remarkably good job of it. Move over Gerry Adams, there is a new political strategist in town.