The fourth President of the Irish Republic -- Eire -- 68-year-old Mr. Erskine Childers was?
The fourth President of the Irish Republic -- Eire -- 68-year-old Mr. Erskine Childers was formally sworn in at a ceremony in Dublin Castle on Monday (June 25). Mr. Childers, an English-born protestant, succeeded the Grand Old Man of Irish politics, 90-year-old Eamonn de Valera. Both are members of the Fianna Fail Party, pronounced 'FEE-ANNA FOYLE', which has dominated Irish politics since the birth of the republic, but which is now in opposition.
Although born of mixed English-American parentage, Mr. Childers has close family ties with Irish nationalism. His father, Erskine Childers Senior, helped to run guns into Ireland in 1914 for the Irish Volunteers (later to become the Irish Republican Army) and in 1922 was executed by Free State forces for his part in opposing the treaty which brought the Irish Free State -- now Eire -- into being. Mr. Childers took office on the anniversary of his father's death.
Mr. Childers -- who speaks no gaelic -- surprised the audience at the swearing-in by reciting the oath of office in fluent Irish. He has said he wants to be more than a more figurehead in his GBP 11,500 a year job. His official residence in Dublin's Pheenix Park, will, he hopes, become a meeting place for all those interested in a peaceful solution to the troubles now besetting Northern Ireland. At the ceremony Mr. Childers said he would pray for 'the creation of harmony between Irish men and women'. He is known to be strongly opposed to the present-day I.R.A., which is an outlawed organisation in both Eire and Northern Ireland.
Ex-President de Valera attended the ceremony. It is believed it will be his last official public appearance.