Over the course of the past few weeks, some of the people I have spoken to have been quick to point out the limits of the Office of The President. They are right. However, they ignore the power the Office has to illuminate, to symbolise and to represent. Recent presidents have highlighted that hidden power, and I intend to as well. Indeed, that is exactly why I am running.

Because let’s face it, there are issues that need illuminating. There are people that need representing and the symbolic power of the Presidency can do both.

As a nation, Ireland has been bruised by the past decade. As we remember the crash that cost us a generation, we see the damage beyond the financial one. We see the scars, emotional and physical, that those years have etched: in the worry about financial security, in the citizens that sleep without shelter, in the queues for health services, both mental and physical. It has created a new uncertainty that is not going to go away any time soon; an uncertainty that erodes our confidence and that can prevent us from reaching our potential as individuals, as communities and as a society.

The recovery, which is certainly not felt by a sizeable portion of our people, has also created an inequality that is being felt each day. I believe it is now time to focus our attention back onto our people, and in particular, the social issues that are affecting families across our country.

My vision for the Presidency is…

Just as I saw with Pieta House and Darkness into Light, when people are mobilised we see real change in our communities. We see the power of community through our tidy towns, our Men’s Sheds, the GAA, our breakfast clubs in schools, our reading clubs, to name but a few organisations who do something extraordinary for no return. I believe that we need to recognise an inherent value in these communities now more than ever before.

As President, I will reward our most valuable asset – our communities

• I will hold and support County Connection Projects as a starting point for community change

• I will speak about the value of the community by recognising and empowering strong community projects and encourage the need for volunteerism by extending the Gaisce award to people of all ages

• I will encourage our young people so that they recognise the value of civic duty as part and parcel of their life’s journey

I will connect with communities abroad and work with the Government to ensure that Ireland is represented with dignity and pride on the world stage

Our physical and mental wellbeing is central to our lives and is being increasingly challenged by the pressures of modern living.

As President, I will champion Ireland’s wellbeing. I will promote the value of wellness in the home, in the workplace and in schools by:

  •     Hosting regional seminars on wellness with relevant stakeholders
  •     Holding an Annual Day of Wellness in the Áras to celebrate the benefits of good physical and mental health.
  •      Personally addressing the subject of wellness in schools across

We’re living longer, healthier lives than ever before and this presents us with both opportunities and challenges. When we think of living longer we tend to think of practical needs such as health services and home care. But we should also be thinking about how we can grow older with dignity, what we can give back to our communities, living free from anxiety, and being supported by our communities and not left in isolation.

I’ve always felt that we undervalue the experience, the wisdom and the expertise that our older people have. As President, I want to ensure that the valuable contribution that is made by our ageing population is harnessed and utilised to create and maintain a caring, inclusive and supportive community. I’ll do this through:

  •     Encouraging initiatives that aim to use the skills and expertise of older people for the betterment of their communities.
  •     Using my Presidency to change the attitude and language around older people and promote older people as valued members of the community.

Our young people are our future, but they face more complex challenges than the generations that went before them.

As President, I want to build the strength and confidence of our young people to make them resilient for the future. I’ll do this through:

  •     Highlighting the challenges like cyberbullying, low self-esteem and integration faced by our young people.
  •     Fostering and nurturing the confidence and realising the potential of our young people through the Amber Flag initiative in schools and voluntary groups.
  •     Giving a voice to young people on the Council of State.  

The people of Ireland will take to the polls on October 26th. In doing so, they will choose who they feel best to represent them on the national and international stage. They will examine each candidate’s history, and judge them for the work they have done for the people of Ireland and the values that they hold.

I believe that I have the experience, the energy and the determination to make a positive impact as the next President of Ireland.

I believe that while every community in this country has its challenges, the solutions to those challenges are best found by the people living in those communities. I want to focus the national lens on our people, our issues and the solutions we as a civil society can bring.

As an electorate, I am asking for your vote on October 26th. The next 7 years are crucial in rebuilding the fabric of support that individuals and communities can offer. I want to be the President that builds the mental and physical resilience we need to combat the challenges ahead, ensuring we build an Ireland that is an example to the world in kindness, in courage and in care.

Mental health affects how we work, rest and play. The way Joan can make a difference is by using the highest office in this country to elevate the importance of mental health in schools, homes, workplaces and the community. When we prioritise mental health we see the success not just in each other but in our community.