The Irish Presidency: Power, Ceremony and Politics


John Coakley, Kevin Rafter. 

Foreword: Michael D. Higgins

The first complete account of the Irish presidency since 1945. Explains the true role of the President in Irish life and politics. Delves deep into the roots of the institution, past and present.

ISBN: N/A Categories: ,


Although the office of President of Ireland has attracted a great deal of public attention, especially since the election of Mary Robinson in 1990, the presidency has been the subject of little analysis. This gap in our knowledge of Irish politics is filled by this timely collection, which brings together a set of studies that explore the political role of the Irish presidency from a comparative perspective.

The background to the creation of the presidency in 1937 is considered alongside a detailed assessment of the political, social and symbolic functions of the office.

The contributors examine the method of nomination and election – as well as the performance in office – of each president, to provide a comprehensive understanding of the Irish presidency and its holders over the last 75 years.

‘I commend the editors and contributors on a fine volume of essays. I have no doubt that it will be a valuable tool to inform readers and students about the genesis, history and contemporary nature of the Irish Presidency.’
– Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Foreword by President Michael D. Higgins xiii

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: New Perspectives on the President of Ireland ~John Coakley (UCD) and Kevin Rafter (DCU)
2. The President in Comparative Perspective ~ Robert Elgie (DCU)
3. The Political Role of the President ~ Michael Gallagher (TCD)
4. The Prehistory of the Presidency ~ John Coakley (UCD)
5. The Early Presidents, 1938–1973 ~ Ciara Meehan (Herts)
6. The Politics of a ‘Non-Political’ Office, 1973–1990 ~ Kevin Rafter (DCU)
7. Activist Presidents and Gender Politics, 1990–2011 ~ Yvonne Galligan (QUB)
8. Presidential Elections: The Collapse of Partisanship? ~ Gary Murphy (DCU) and Theresa Reidy (UCC)
9. The 2011 Presidential Election: Explaining the Outcome ~ Eoin O’Malley (DCU)
10. Conclusion: The President of Ireland: Past, Present and Future ~ John Coakley (UCD) and Kevin Rafter (DCU)

About the Editors

John Coakley is Professor of Politics at University College Dublin and at Queen’s University Belfast.
Kevin Rafter is a Senior Lecturer in Political Communication and Associate Dean for Research at Dublin City University.