The Presidential campaign has generated plenty of column inches and lively debate as one candidate after another has become embroiled in controversy that has kept the nation guessing as to who will eventually succeed Mary McAleese as President of Ireland.
Further afield the event has largely gone unnoticed as the world’s media grapples with the larger issues, the possible collapse of the Euro, anti-corporate demonstrations and the inevitable tensions in the Middle-East.
North of the border the main media outlets have kept a close eye on events focusing, understandably, on the two candidates that hail from within the six counties.
The Belfast Telegraph, the paper with the largest circulation in Northern Ireland, has carried almost daily reports on the Presidential race, carrying Dana’s denial of allegations as its lead story over the past weekend.
The News Letter, which is aimed at the Unionist community, prefers to concentrate on Martin McGuiness and more particularly on why posters for the Sinn Fein candidate are on display within the six counties.
“Unionist outrage over McGuinness’s posters” proclaims the headline with DUP Councillor Errol Thompson being particularly enraged by the offending articles
“At the end of the day it is a foreign election — it has nothing to do with Northern Ireland as far as I am concerned and my party is concerned,” he said.
Asked if they should be taken down, Mr Thompson said: “I do not think they have a place here. The election is in the Republic of Ireland and that is where the posters should be.”
Across the Irish Sea the English media sees McGuinness’s involvement as the most interesting aspect of the upcoming election with The Guardian leaping to the defence of the embattled Assembly member for Mid Ulster.
“Principled and effective, McGuinness’s popularity with his supporters comes from a mix of integrity, straight dealing, and a refusal to be compromised by the trappings of success,” declares columnist Ronan Bennett.
The Telegraph believes that the attacks from journalists and establishment figures within Ireland may actually assist the former IRA member in his quest for the presidency.
“For this particular moment is unusually favourable for the “Nelson McGuinness” ex-war machine. Hammered by the sovereign debt crisis, the euro’s weakness, and the dishonesty and incompetence of its rulers, Ireland, briefly a Celtic tiger, has suffered the greatest collapse in wealth in its history.”
In the US the papers have largely been untroubled by the elections but the Washington Post did declare Martin McGuiness the “most interesting… (and) controversial candidate” before bemoaning Ireland’s “complex voting system that permits votes to be transferred from candidate to candidate in order of preference. With an unprecedented seven candidates in the field, political analysts say the opinion polls cannot accurately predict a winner”.
And on that, at least, we can all agree.