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Le Tour de France 2017 (of beer!)

Now that, is a serious, potentially clickbait-esque, misleading, title for a blog, so allow me to preface this by saying this is the first in a series of blogs around a selection of beers sampled in France. For the purposes of the narrative however, let me explain the similie a little by outlining the differences and similarities to Le Tour for you!

Much like “Le Tour”, I recently spent a number of weeks in France, with very few “rest days” (try a holiday with 2 young children and you will see what i mean – “not so much a holiday as a change of venue”), the tour of the beers offered something a little distinctive each day with no two beers the same, and like the tour there was a mix of good and not quite so good stages!

Unlike “Le Tour”, it wasn’t so much France but a limited number of regions of it, the work wasn’t exactly much of a hard slog, it was generally limited to evenings and all of the content of the best beer was 100% organic with no added chemical substances!!

Anyway, I digress!

Thanks to my new pal Alain, of the travelling Cheri Pense au Vin Cave in Aizenay , Vendee, I managed to sample some fantastic organic beers from the range of local beers that he carried. Fortunately for me, Alain visited a location once a week that was just 200 metres from my front door. Unfortunately, I perhaps got a little too involved in the sampling to keep any consistent, sensible notes / references, of what I had sampled to be able to write anything sensible or even remotely helpful…

However, and thankfully for the sake of this blog, I did remember to pick up a sizeable selection of those beers that I sampled from Vendeen breweries Les Coureurs de Lune and La Piautrewhilst on Le Tour to bring home and I am going to put in the hard work all over again (in Dublin) to write up a couple of reviews! I may also have a couple of thoughts to add too on the output of the industrial brewers in France in response the evolving market there but more on that another time!

 

In the short term, my initial thoughts and observations as follows,

 

Small Batches – made with care and attention

The product is produced in small batches and thus there is always some little distinctive variances between these batches. Fans of industrial, generic, consistent product would no doubt despair of this but I have to say I was charmed by the thoughts of it being so handmade that there could be small variances due to the nature of production. I also love the idea of supporting a small business do something they are passionate about (particularly where their passion is beer!)

 

Fresh beer tastes best!

The fact that the beer was brewed in small batches, means that it was always extremely fresh and refreshing with crisp, distinctive flavours. There is no understating the importance of this; I am no poster child for clean eating but honestly fresh produce in the world of beer tastes absolutely fantastic, clean and allows the individual flavours to shine through.

 

Organic was the name of the game!

I may have been a little steered by the aforementioned, Alain’s penchant for all things “Bio”, and the fact that he only carried organic beer. However, I am also the kind of person that resents paying a 10% premium in the supermarket for mucky carrots because of some organic provenance. In the case of the beer, this organic production matters enormously however because, fresh, organic product means less (or no) chemicals and no hangover from the beer as a result – regardless of the alcoholic strength or volume consumed (and I am also at pains to point out that the “10% organic tax” seems to be lacking too!)

 

A selections of styles and flavours!

The variance of styles (even from small brewers) is enormous. I can only surmise that due to some cultural pre-disposition to regional styles and variants for other forms of alcohol and the more recent emergence of a wider demand for beer that there is a demand for varying styles. Either way, this is largely at odds with a lot of what we see in other markets where the preference tends to be to produce IPA’s, Lagers and iterations of these.

 

That’s it in terms of initial thoughts. As for overall impression….suffice to say i was very impressed! I will get the first few reviews up over the coming weeks as I work my way more diligently back through the selection (all brought home purely for research purposes of course!) so please keep an eye out for my updates…as i get them out!

Cheers!

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BREXIT – Will its bark be worse than its bite for Irish business?

As something of a political junkie, I sat in a hotel room in Newcastle and watched as the initial results of the UK referendum on continued membership of the EU were announced, and it is safe to say that I was pretty shocked at what was transpiring in front of my eyes. Whilst the Gibraltar result was first known and comprehensively in favour of Remain, it was never going to be a good indicator of the likely overall result.

Two real bellwether constituencies were locked in something of a local rivalry to see who could get the votes counted and result announced the quickest – Sunderland or Newcastle. The sense of the commentators was that whilst a close outcome in Sunderland would probably indicate a vote to remain; the opposite was true of the Newcastle result. As the tension mounted and the light-hearted local rivalry was discussed by the political panel on the TV, it became clear that Newcastle would get a result out first – 65-35 in favour of Remain (if I remember correctly). This result was indicative of perhaps a shift to the leave camp but remained inconclusive. I retired to bed assuming that whilst it was closer than expected that the Remain camp would just scrape through with a narrow margin, after all, the bookies  rarely get it wrong and they had predicted a Remain result!

Fast forward a couple of hours and as day broke it became apparent that the unlikely had happened and the UK had indeed voted to Leave the EU. This was not the result that I personally expected nor had many others in fact in my immediate circle either. However, within a couple of days of the result being announced the real truth became apparent

  • Few people had anticipated this outcome and as a result,
  • Even fewer had any sense of what the implications of the result might likely be (beyond the resignation of David Cameron of course!)

So what now?

Well, the answer is that we still don’t know with any certainty; from both an economic and political perspective we are in unchartered waters.

One might be inclined to think that the response of the EU might be somewhat heavy handed in terms of negotiating an exit deal for the UK as a means of protecting the benefits of membership of the EU bloc (not to mention to serve as a deterrent to other countries with secessionist groupings). Indeed there have been calls from within the EU to have the UK trigger the secession process sooner rather than later.

One might also be inclined to think that the result might also trigger some political instability within the UK, but the timing over the summer political recess seems to have taken some of the impetus out of this process. However, given the fractious nature of the result in terms of geographical split, in terms of preference, and a more Euro sceptic look to the UK government this may again flare up in the coming months.

There are lots of other potential impacts in addition to the above, such as the Common Travel Area between Ireland and the UK, EU migrants’ right to work in the UK and many other issues, however, the reality at this point, in relation to all of the above, is the following, the only certainty is that we are in for a period of uncertainty whilst the details around the new status quo are thrashed out….and the markets do not like uncertainty.

But what are the immediate impacts of this uncertainty?

Firstly, the lack of certainty around the future prospects for the UK economy outside of the EU trading bloc has led to an ongoing decline in the value of the pound Sterling against currencies such as the Euro and the US Dollar.

Secondly, it would appear that uncertainty has driven a level of reduction in Economic output in the UK. This has been reflected in a number of the key economic surveys in recent weeks, and is sufficiently of concern to the Bank of England for it to act in the last couple of days to slash interest rates to 0.25% to try to drive spending in the economy to boost activity (which also has the impact of weakening the value of Sterling as it becomes less attractive in terms of its immediate value payback for investors.)

A strong Euro against Sterling is not a good thing for Irish exporters to the UK or indeed any Irish business with links into the UK market. Higher costs mean that Irish exports to the UK become less competitive versus UK competitors meaning exporters will face either decreasing demand or tighter margins.

Irish exposure to the UK economy is (whilst not as large as it was in previous decades) still extremely significant. There is over a billion euro in trade between the UK and Ireland every week, Dublin to London is the second busiest international air traffic route in the world, and many businesses trade across the now invisible border between Northern Ireland and the Republic every day as if it was never there. The UK is our closest neighbour, we share a language, cultural reference points, and citizens move freely between the entities due to a common travel area that pre-dates the EU.

However, how all of these elements will be managed in the future remain uncertain, and from a business perspective the sensible (or at least most common) approach in uncertain times is wait and see what transpires, meaning delaying investment decisions and reduced volumes of business to minimise potential exposure risks.

The often used phrase

“it’s the not knowing that kills you”

seems apt in this case for Irish businesses.

What we are certain of is the following

  1. The uncertainty from a UK perspective as to what happen next with their relationship with the EU is impacting confidence in Sterling which is making our exports to the UK (our biggest export market) more expensive.
  1. The uncertainty regarding the future ability to exercise the EU’s 4 Freedoms in dealing with the UK is hampering informed decision making in every facet of dealing with that market into the future for Irish businesses
  1. The cumulative effect of the above is damaging economic confidence leading to reductions in the forecast economic growth rates in the Irish economy (which has the potential to negatively influence inward investment)

Perhaps the least-worst outcome for Irish business right now would be for someone in the UK to “Rip off the Band-Aid” in triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty and the kick-off of the exit negotiations between the UK & the EU with a definitive timeline of 2 years in order to provide answers & certainty so we can finally understand if the threat of #BREXIT is indeed worse than the reality.

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#Brexit – What are the implications for your business? (Irrespective of the result?)

The media momentum is gathering in the lead up to the UK’s historic referendum on continued membership of the European Union, or #BREXIT as it has become known, on Thursday June 23rd.  For a political and economic spectator, with no input on the result, such as myself, it makes for fascinating viewing. Currently polls are showing the remain side with a slim majority however this is narrowing all the time as undecided voters begin to feel a preference one way or the other. However, we do know that polls can be misleading or indeed can influence voter behaviour in the run up to polling day. Also we have seen in recent times that certain polling companies in the UK, for whatever reason, badly misjudged the likely outcome of the UK general election so the margin for error is tight.

Overall, it would appear that there is much to play for over the coming weeks, however, what is interesting at this point in time is the types of arguments for and against that are likely to have an influence over the decisions of the business community in terms of how they decide to vote.

On the remain side, we see lots of the multi-national entities with a presence in the UK warning that a UK exit may lead them to reconsider their ongoing market presence, particularly in the area of financial services. Whilst these businesses are making statements on this matter it unclear as to the likely course of action that would be followed or the timeline associated with it.

However, on the leave side we see that many small businesses feel that EU mandated legislation perhaps makes for a challenging operating environment as EU regulations become transposed into UK law that are perhaps more onerous than is maybe necessary where they trade domestically only. What is unclear, is to the speed or extent to which EU regulations could or indeed would, be unravelled from UK regulation and indeed to what extent those UK businesses exporting to the EU would be in a position to stop applying EU regulations easily.

Similarly, in terms of movement of people it is unclear as to the likely impact of changes to the UK’s relationship with the EU might have. In the first instance it is clear that the movement of migrants is a hot topic here, however, it should also be borne in mind that there is massive movement of people for business purposes within the EU and most significantly between Ireland and UK. The significance of the Irish British relationship should not be understated particularly in a situation whereby there is a UK decision to leave the EU and Ireland remains a member. Notably with regards to the facts that,

  1. The UK’s only land border is with Ireland
  2. Ireland and the UK remain within the top 5 trading partners of each other
  3. It is estimated that there is somewhere between 250k and 400k citizen of each country currently resident in the other
  4. The Dublin – London air route is reportedly the second busiest in the world.

Without doubt, a changed situation between the UK and Ireland in terms of freedom of movement as a result of a UK exit would significantly change the business environment between the two nations.

These are just a couple of examples of likely impacts as a direct result of the outcome referendum on June 23rd. What is certain is that on the basis of the changes to the terms of the UK membership of the EU negotiated recently, even if the popular vote is to remain it is clear that the relationship will be much changed between the UK and EU.

I’m interested to understand your business position with regards to #Brexit via the comments section.

What are the likely impacts for your business? Do you have a preference either way? Do you believe it will have any material impact on you personally or from a business perspective? What are the likely changes that you anticipate from an operational perspective?

*Note: any view expressed above are entirely personal and may or may not reflect those of my employer.
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Payment change in Ireland – A perfect storm is brewing!

I have been a long term advocate of the need for both Irish society and business to move to more modern payment methodologies and away from the love affair with cash and cheques. The reasons are pretty compelling. Electronic payments are;

  • More secure
  • Rapidly becoming less costly than cash or cheques
  • Mitigate against petty crime
  • And ensure that more money stays in the economy and is collected via indirect taxation, benefitting all of society.

As a nation, we Irish, have historically struggled to divorce ourselves from cash and cheques entirely, for a number of valid reasons. In most recent times in a period of, never before seen uncertainty, around the liquidity of banks worldwide we probably became even more tied to using cash….but times are changing fast..

I had the good fortune of participating in a working group around the IrishNational Payments Plan in a professional capacity which engaged the major stakeholder communities around initiatives to drive greater usage of electronic payments in the Irish economy, and while that working group is no longer in place, the recent pace in terms of the deployment of initiatives and adoption of the kinds of measures it proposed and discussed have really proven to demonstrate to me that fundamental change around our usage of cash is starting to happen.

I won’t be tempted to compare our usage of cash with the usual suspects such as the Nordic countries, however 2 facts relating to this part of the world are telling,

  1. The BBC reported earlier this year that cashless payments have already overtaken the use of notes and coins in the British Economy – THIS YEAR!
  2. Last week, Visa announced that there was 1 contactless payment per second in Ireland this year.

We have also seen a slew of moves through legislative activity in Ireland aligned to the budget and other activities to up the ante in terms of the transition to ePayments in recent weeks, namely,

  • Increasing limits on contactless payments to €30 from €15 from the end of October
  • The rolling out nationally of a rounding scheme in order to phase out the use of the 1c and 2c coins
  • The scrapping of Stamp Duty on Debit cards replacing it with a transaction charge on ATM transactions to incentivise greater use of contactless payments and less use of ATMs from January 1st
  • And lastly the much needed reduction in transaction fees for those accepting card payments so as to not dis-incentivise those offering that alternative.

When these measures are added to the introduction of the Single Euro Payments Area (SEPA) in August 2014, the upcoming mandating of SEPA for Euro transactions in non-Eurozone states in October 2016 and the implementation of eDay in September 2014 to kick start the divorce of the cheque from the state financial operations with business, all of which have made it more attractive to go electronic and less advantageous to continue with paper based payments and are aligned to the clear consumer demand for electronic payments it is becoming clear that the potential for a cashless society is no longer merely a pipedream.

A perfect storm of legislative drivers, changing consumer preferences & behaviours, and technology evolution is driving a step change in our relationship with the payments instruments we use. From a business perspective it is surely now the right time to accelerate the process of ensuring that you are ready for it or perhaps be prepared to be left behind by changing consumer behaviours.

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The Impact of Taylor Swift on the SAAS rules of engagement for the Product Marketer….

Towards the end of 2014, Taylor Swift took a decision to ask for her content to be removed from Spotify, citing the imbalance of return for the artist from the revenue streams created around their content. It was a notable move at the time as it appeared to fly in the face of the new conventional wisdom that control of the content no longer lay with the artist in terms of generating a return from it and that they should simply ride the wave of the incremental merchandise and ticketing opportunities it created. However, she has spoken out again in the last couple of days against the fact that Apple’s new music service was due to offer 3 months service for free to the end users as a means of attracting users but in parallel expecting the artist to foot the bill by means of not receiving royalties. Interestingly, in this case, Apple have backed down, reversing the decision around artist royalties, and effectively taking the cost burden on themselves.

 

So how could this have an implication in a business (and specifically a SAAS) context?

The effect of the stance taken by Taylor Swift against both Spotify and Apple creates an interesting pretext for the commercialisation of SAAS products more generally. The accepted wisdom of SAAS products, be those consumer or business products, in terms of the go to market offering, is such that a free period (which varies from one business, country, product to another) is usually offered as a teaser to get customers onboarded and using the products before they begin paying, in other words….try before you buy. The question around this business model has perhaps thus been, who foots the bill for the free period? Conventional logic would dictate perhaps that in the case of a smaller player that they hold little sway over their stakeholders in terms of the value chain and thus have to foot the cost of new customer trial / free periods and conversely for the bigger players (such as Apple or Spotify) the imposition of the cost of the trial period is on the service providers. However, it would appear that Taylor Swift has inadvertently struck a blow for the providers of the service components, levelling the playing field, and putting the cost implications of the provision of free trials to would be users back on the service owners.

 

So, now that the rules of engagement are set, what are the realistic implications for providers of SAAS products?

My personal view, as a result of this quite visible backing down by Apple, on the cost implications of free trials is that these costs are fast becoming a marketing cost or a cost of sales. Effectively, cost of service provision, unrecouped by customer revenues during free trial periods, become a cost of to the business of acquiring and securing the customer and as such, depending on what way the business accounts for this cost, this effectively either becomes a cost of sales or a marketing cost. Either way, this means that cost of service provision during trials, effectively should be measured as part of the overall Cost Per Acquisition (CPA) of the customer to be played in against the customer Lifetime Value (LTV) to provide the metrics by which cost effective customer acquisition should be measured.

For those of us familiar with the world of marketing and selling SAAS products, the key to success is not actually in attracting customers to trial and use your product while it is free, the trick is in fact in driving the conversion from trial to paying through the onboarding process. Whilst a responsibility for driving conversion from trial to paying sits with the UX and product design teams there is equal reliance on marketing and product marketing functions in enabling the discovery of value in order to turn a triallist into a paying customer. As a result this gives greater control of the customer journey from discovery to onboarding to the expertise (and budget line) of the marketing functions and thus greater expertise and budgetary bandwidth perhaps needs to be played in as well as making this element of the work remit more clearly defined for the product marketing function.

 

The key take away for the product marketer?

Beyond assisting in driving the customers from trial to paying, the product marketers ongoing role is then to drive the “surprise and delight” factors in ensuring that customers that are less financially committed to your product than ever before remain sticky…and its for this reason that us product marketing professionals must be more aware than ever of the key metrics of CPA and LTV…and the rule setting of Taylor Swift of course…

Taylor Swift references aside, the key take away is this,  a rounded understanding of customer experience from acquisition to retention has never been as important as it is in the current SAAS environment, and as such, the management of the flow of the customer journey needs multiple touch points and engagements from all those involved in the product marketing function with a vested interest in the customers ongoing success to ensure this is realised.

I’d appreciate any thoughts on this from others in the SAAS space via the comments below

 

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Top Tips for Air Travel Zen!

I previously wrote a piece on here about debunking some of the myths around business travel being fun and it appeared to resonate with people. I have recently had an increase in the frequency of that travel for a variety of reasons and as such I have noticed a marked increase in the sheer number of people travelling progressively week on week but also have noticed the number of people travelling for non work related reasons increase. What is noticeable about these less frequent fliers is that things that have become second nature to me in terms of negotiating the airport and flying experience in a stress free manner are sometimes not all that clear to the infrequent flyer. So, given that holiday / vacation season is upon us, here are my top tips for less stressful air travel….

Time….

– Enough is enough

There are 2 types of people in this world when it comes to time keeping, those that like to be just in time and those that like to be well in time. The reality is that when travelling through airports you need to accept that your time is not entirely within your control. Yes, give yourself time for the unexpected, such as long queues, busy periods due to things like charter flights but also recognise that airports handle lots of flights to different places not just your flight so, at certain times of the day & parts of the year, the airport in going to be busier than other times – past performance is not an indicator of future performance and all that..

Bear in mind that some people just find the experience of flying and negotiating an airport a little stressful and as such aren’t as “clued-in” as they might otherwise be. In this respect the top tip is expect to be a little delayed at some point in the journey and pre-plan in terms of getting through the pinch points. A really good example of this is at security screening, you will have to go through this so think about that when packing your carry-on bag so that you can get at what you need to easily and also the type of clothing…the most regular holdups at security that I see are ladies trying to take off boots and blokes rooting for washbags underneath all their other stuff, those kinds of things invariably add to stress levels with others waiting impatiently behind in the queue!

Expect queues everywhere, airports excel at creating them for everything…its a fact of life and once you accept it things become much easier! Patience is your most underestimated ally in airports!

On the flip side, those who like to give themselves lots of time can suffer the challenges of the airport too. Whilst I do advocate giving a little extra time, there is nothing fun about being in the airport 3-4 hours ahead of a flight. Invariably being too early means that check-in desks are not yet open, security sometimes will restrict how soon pre-flight you can go through and increasingly (in an effort to get you to spend more money on stuff you don’t need at over inflated prices) boarding gates are not displayed until just before the flight closes and there is less and less seating around!


Tech

Technology should be about improving your life, making things easier and creating more options for you, my top tip for when you’re travelling?  – Use It!

Mobile

Most major airlines now not only allow you to check in remotely using a mobile device but also allow you to get a mobile boarding card, this means you can carry less scraps of paper and in reality you are also far less likely to misplace your phone as a scrap of A4 paper! In terms of your mobile boarding card, a shout out to a former colleague who’s top tip was to take a screenshot of your boarding card so you are not relying on mobile data connections to retrieve it while a queue forms behind you at a boarding gate! Do make sure your phone is charged however if you are depending on it and obviously if your battery is dying avoid Candy Crush!

Google!

Google your flight number or use flightradar24 to keep an eye on your flight (or indeed the inbound one that your flight will become), it will absolutely keep you better informed that he airport screens or PA system will. I have no idea how it works (voodoo or black magic i suspect!) but it never fails to give you early warning of any likely delays!

My Personal “Must Haves”

At some point it is likely that you will be bored, and your tech should be something to help keep the boredom at bay at least for a while. My current armoury of stuff to keep boredom at bay is as follows, iPad with; kindle app and books downloaded for future reading, spotify app in offline mode with few playlists synced, SkyGo app or equivalent with some stuff stored to watch later, simple games – Bejewelled, Angry Birds etc. In ear headphones, airlines will always ask you to remove over the ear ones and to be honest they take up loads of room in your carry on anyway. A paperback book for when your tech battery dies (and it will!), and lastly using your email in offline mode, dont worry, it will all send when you are back in internet coverage and you will have the benefit of being ahead of the game!


Peace of mind…

Travelling causes incremental stress levels for everyone, no matter how experienced at it you are so here are some handy hints that I suggest to help minimise it and keep you on an even keel!

– €5/€6 quid is cheap for peace of mind – use the fast track if nervous about, queues, travelling in groups etc

– Everything is premium priced – accept it. You probably don’t need whatever you are eying up in the duty free and it is more than likely cheaper elsewhere!

– You honestly don’t need all your clutter immediately accessible at the top of your carry-on bag or handbag – keep only the essentials accessible in a particular section (passport, boarding card, money) everything else is only going to get in the way when you are looking in a hurry for one of the aforementioned!

– Airports are highly regulated places for safety and security reasons, don’t expect anyone working in that environment to bend any rules for you or even to be woolly with the interpretation, they simply can’t do it and all it will cause is additional stress and holdups for everyone else!

– Write your parking location (section, row number etc) on the car park ticket, you wont remember it a week later, and having walked around the long term carpark in Dublin airport in the dark for hours dragging a bag behind I can attest that it is no fun!

Got any top tips? Please share them in the comments below! Bon Voyage!

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The Other Referendum….Why I Am Voting Yes

On Friday 22nd May 2015 the eligible (and registered!) voters of Ireland will be asked to vote in favour or against 2 amendments to the constitution. I am proud to say that I live in a democracy that places the power to decide on the content of the ultimate reference (the constitution) with respect to the laws that govern us as citizens of this democracy. Only the people of Ireland have the right to change or amend that laws that govern us and it is a fundamental power of self determination that we perhaps take for granted. This requirement to state the preference for or against any change to our constitution does mean on occasion that we are required to make decisions on elements that we believe to be trivial or less important than others but this coming Friday we are being asked to vote on what I believe are two fundamental questions on the rights of the citizens of this state.

The forgotten referendum?

Whilst there appears to be enormous coverage on the question posed under the marriage equality referendum from both domestic and international media, and the arguments for and against have been played out in almost every conceivable forum, there is a second referendum that will be put to the voters on Friday 22nd and that is around the question of whether the right to hold the office of President of Ireland can be amended so that the minimum age of the office holder is reduced from 35 to 21 years of age. As a result of the low level of coverage, it would appear that the public has not been as well informed as possible on the arguments for and against the proposed amendment and as such, it would appear that, in the absence of fullness of information, that the voting public will opt to retain the status quo, a belief already being echoed by senior politicians up to and including the Tanaiste.

Why I am voting Yes

Perhaps I am being flippant in suggesting that the lack of awareness is triggering the preference to retain the current wording of the constitution, however, I genuinely find it difficult to comprehend how the concept of equality is getting (according to the polls at least) such a high preference in the marriage equality referendum but that this is not being translated into similar levels when it comes to equality on the basis of age. As a society, we allow the citizens that live in the country to choose the type of government that we would like on a proportional representative basis, the right to amend the constitution that is the ultimate legal reference point, get married, drive a car, purchase alcohol and tobacco etc yet as it stands, that proportion of the population under the age of 35 does not have an equal right to hold the highest elected office in the state and for me that strikes me as inequality on the basis of perception of ability based on age.

I could easily rhyme off a list of well accomplished individuals in their various fields of expertise all under the age of 35 from Mark Zuckerberg to the Collison brothers of Stripe fame. Equally looking back in history one of the greatest leaders in recent Irish history, Michael Collins, would not have been eligible to hold the office of President, and throwing out examples such as this can perhaps change some perceptions of the actual importance of the “life experience” that is the fundamental concept behind the current age restrictions and perhaps how the logical basis of this restriction is flawed. Either way, in an equal society, why should age be a barrier to the ability to hold office?

I don’t believe that age matters all that much; we are already arbitrarily deciding that 18 years of age defines the lower boundary of independent and mature thought, and that is why I will be voting Yes on Friday 22nd on the proposed amendment to the constitution concerning age of eligibility to hold the office of president, and would encourage those of you that have a vote to do the same.

If the referendum on the minimum age does pass and, horror of horrors, a callow youth of less that 35 years of age does have the gumption to run for office, you can count yourself lucky that we are in the fortunate position of living in a democracy that empowers us to vote for others we believe more suitable!

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