In Dublin, Fine Gael’s leader in the Seanad confirmed that Jim Higgins is ready to relinquish his seat to allow Ray O’Hanlon’s name go forward in a by-election. Fine Gael warned, however, that Higgins would only resign the seat if Fianna Fail, the country’s largest party, promised not to contest the seat.
As this newspaper went to press, Fianna Fail’s position was unclear. But given the support of the Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, the leader of the Seanad Mary O’Rourke, and both houses of the Irish parliament for the McCain-Kennedy immigration bill, it seems likely Fianna Fail will do the right thing, and step to one side.
Meanwhile, there is word that other people in the United States are considering standing against Ray O’Hanlon.
There is nothing wrong with this — choice is a cornerstone in any democratic contest. But it is hard to imagine a candidate more appropriate and qualified than Ray O’Hanlon. It should also be borne in mind that at this crucial time, Irish America will be unforgiving of anyone whose motives are questionable.
It would not be appropriate, for example, for a candidate to be associated with any party, either here in the United States, or in Ireland.
Nor would it be acceptable for a candidate to have a vested interest, a government, or semi-state job, or for that matter to use as an electoral tool any position or organization that receives public funds.
Indeed, the Irish city and county councilors that make up the electorate, will not take kindly to any candidate with a penchant for self-promotion, or who sees the diaspora as a stepping stone to a political career.
Ray O’Hanlon does not have political ambitions, and he has said so publicly. He has no ulterior motive, and will not involve himself in “domestic” Irish issues.
Today, we urge Fianna Fail to state it will not contest the by-election, others in Irish America to give Ray O’Hanlon a clear run, and once more and with enormous pride suggest to the county councilors: Vote for Ray!