Standort: fm4.ORF.at / Meldung: "Ireland's presidential hopefuls"

Kate Farmer

Cutting to the chase

29. 9. 2011 - 15:13

Ireland's presidential hopefuls

Reality Check: Transaction tax proposals, severed heads found at Mexican primary school, US terror plot, Irish presidential race, positive computer games

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Q: What do a gay rights campaigner, a former Eurovision winner and a former leader of the Provisional IRA have in common?

A: They are 3 of the 7 nominees for the position of President of Ireland.

It's a varied and colourful line up, and the post is mostly ceremonial, but the battle lines are drawn up, and it will be a hard fought struggle to the very end, with joyous celebrations for the winner, and bitter disappointment for the losers.

With a month to go to the election, according to the Irish betting site Paddy Power, the campaigner, poet and politician Michael D. Higgins is the odds-on favourite, but not far behind are two very controversial figures. There's the openly gay academic and gay and human rights campaigner, David Norris and the former leader of the Provisional IRA, and former member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, Martin McGuinness.

Also in the running, but not tipped for victory, is the former Eurovision winner, Dana Rosemary Scallon, who won the song contest in 1970 with "All Kinds of Everything", and went on to become an MEP, as well as a sprinkling of more mainstream characters from business and politics. It's the first presidential election for 14 years, and the campaigning is passionate and emotional.

In most countries where the president has a mostly ceremonial role, the elections are rather low key affairs; think of the presidential elections here in Austria, for instance, or in Germany. Where the president wields considerable political power, there is more drama around the elections; think USA or France. What's striking about Ireland is that such interest and excitement runs around an election for a position that doesn't carry any significant power.

Journalist Fran McNulty in Dublin told Joanna Bostock about the high feelings that run around the campaigns and the candidates that are causing the most controversy.

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Transaction tax turmoil

As Germany passes new powers for the EU's main bailout fund, EU Commission President, Jose Manuel Barosso is calling for a financial transaction tax that would mean the banks share the burden with the regular taxpayers. The idea is being warmly received in Paris and Berlin, but the UK is firmly set against it. Our Brussels correspondent, Vanessa Mock, told Chris Cummins about the plan and why it is proving so divisive.

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Severed heads dumped outside a school in Acapulco heighten striking teachers demands for better security

The gruesome find of 5 decapitated bodies, followed later by the discovery of the severed heads dumped in a bag outside a primary school, is adding fuel to the campaign by Mexico's teachers for better security to be provided around the country's schools. The teachers refused to reopen the schools after the summer break and, according to our Mexico correspondent, Joanna Tuckman, the authorities are finally trying to act, though it's unclear how successful they will be.

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US terror plot discovered

US authorities say they have arrested a 26 year old physics student is being accused of planning to attack the Pentagon and Capitol buildings with remote controlled planed loaded with explosives. However, FBI agents supplied him with explosives as a part of their undercover operation, and now there are questions of entrapment. Our Washington DC correspondent, Priscilla Huff, told Steve Crilley what happened.

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Computer games to change how we think

We hear a great deal about the possible negative influences of playing computer games, but one games developer has found a way to use computer games to change attitudes in a very positive way. Mary Flanagan, Professor in Digital Humanities at Dartmouth College, USA, told Chris Cummins how these games work when they met at the Salzburg Global Seminar

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