All things considered, it’s probably just as well that Michael D Higgins has chosen to seek a second term in the Aras, because strange things seem to happen to former holders of the post once they stop being president.
First Mary Robinson decided to become the world’s conscience at the UN, regardless of whether the world wanted her to or not. Now her successor, instead of enjoying a quiet, well-earned retirement, has picked another scrap with the Vatican, after earlier this year being barred from speaking at an official event at the Vatican to mark International Women’s Day.
The meeting was moved to a different venue so that McAleese and other guests who’d been singled out for exclusion by the Holy See could speak. She took the opportunity to denounce the Catholic Church as an “empire of misogyny” and to describe theological objections to women priests as “pure codology.” Her feelings in the intervening months have clearly not mellowed. This week she accused Pope Francis of “bad manners” for not replying to a letter that she sent to him about it all six months ago.