Reeling in the years: Ireland's 2025 Presidential Race begins to take shape
During the anniversary commemorations for the Good Friday Agreement, three familiar names within Irish political circles enjoyed a return to the media spotlight.
The Irish Presidential race is one which often fails to capture the electorate's imagination quite to the same extent as the spectacle which surrounds a General Election. However, 2025 appears to have the potential to flip this certitude on its head.
Amidst all the furore which surrounded Joe Biden's historic Presidential visit to the country last week, a number of recognisable Irish political figures ventured back out into the media ecosystem after an extended spell of the sidelines.
The trio in question are of course the former Taoisigh Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny, alongside former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
First to raise their head above the proverbial parapet was the one-time Fianna Fáil leader Mr. Ahern, who appeared on RTE's Late Late Show the week prior to President Biden's arrival in Ireland.
With the appearance done so under the guise of Good Friday Agreement commemorations, host Ryan Tubridy took the opportunity to deviate from script and question the former Taoiseach on reports that he is considering a 2025 Presidential run.
Having stepped away from the political party which he ruled for 14 years back in 2010 after the revelations which arose from the Mahon Tribunal, Mr. Ahern rejoined Fianna Fáil in February, in a move which acted as a catalyst in sparking murmurings around a potential Áras bid.
During both that interview with Ryan Tubridy and a second one with Pat Kenny on Newstalk, Mr. Ahern refused to rule out the possibility, with the 71-year-old responding to Tubridy's prompt with "Next question".
Also appearing on a panel with former US President Bill Clinton and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair this week at Queen's University in Belfast, Mr. Ahern received further coverage following glowing praise from Mr. Clinton.
"Bertie had the kind of BS that I always wished I had. I want to be Bertie when I grow up", the two-term US President remarked.
Another who has enjoyed a boost in coverage over the course of the preceding week is the former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
First gaining traction for his slating of the coalition government's stance on Northern Ireland, Mr. Adams described both Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil as being "asleep at the wheel" with regards to their responsibilities in the North.
Mr. Adams has previously stated in the past that "I have never had any intention, I don't have any intention and never will have any intention of running for that position (President)".
However, these comments were made whilst the Belfast native was still representing his Louth constituency as a TD. Moreover, perhaps his departure from the public sphere over the last five years has rekindled a yearning to serve in some form of public office.
The probable avenue of political smearing regarding Mr. Adams' often-alledged involvement in the IRA could also be mitigated given that potential running opponent Mr. Ahern has endured scandals of his own in the past.
Furthermore, with a Sinn Féin majority for the first time ever in Northern Ireland, alongside the very real possibility of a Sinn Féin election victory in the Republic, the prospect of the party potentially controlling the three main levers of power on the island could tempt Mr. Adams.
With support surging in the south to a record high of 37% in the latest voters' intentions poll, many would view it as remiss of the party to not capitalise on their soaring popularity by putting forward a candidate with big-name recognition such as Mr. Adams.
Rarely scene in the political sphere since his stepping down as Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader back in 2017, the Mayo man completed the bingo card of Irish political resurrections during the visit of President Biden.
Since his departure from the political arena, Mr. Kenny has avoided the temptation of a return to the spectacle of Irish politics, instead venturing in to the business world alongside hosting an Irish language series on RTE One entitled Iarnród Enda.
The former Fine Gael leader has also recently undergone treatment for cancer, but has stated that he is "on the road to recovery".
Making a return to Leinster House last week though for President Biden's Oireachtas address, just the fourth ever by an American President, Mr. Kenny offered up an intriguing anecdote to attending journalists.
Referencing iconic NBA player Michael Jordan's return to basketball following a two year sojourn in baseball, the former Taoiseach asked journalists if they knew what the poster which was hung in Times Square announcing Jordan's return said; "I'm back", quipped Mr. Kenny.
Whether the analogy was in jest or a tip of the hat to a Presidential bid of his own remains to be seen. However, given the media speculation which surrounded his old foe Mr. Ahern, it seems plausible that the former Fine Gael leader was attempting to garner attention of his own.
Whatever Mr. Kenny's ultimate intentions were, it has left political observers wondering if they are perhaps watching an episode of Reeling In The Years, or if the trio which ruled over Irish politics for the previous two decades are indeed bracing themselves for a return to the limelight.
2025- watch out.
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