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Mairead McGuinness in an RTÉ studio today. Youtube/RTÉ Radio 1
the aras

It's getting more and more likely that we'll have a presidential election this year*

*That’s according to one politician who’s been tipped to run.

ONE OF THE politicians being floated as a potential presidential nominee says she feels it is more likely than not that there will be a contest later this year.

Fine Gael’s Mairead McGuinness stopped short of saying she would run herself but has said it is looking increasingly likely that President Michael D Higgins would face a challenge if he decides to seek a second term.

Upon securing the office in 2011, President Higgins said he would not seek a second term but more recently he has refused to state his intentions, prompting speculation that he is considering a u-turn to stay in Áras an Úachtaráin for another seven years.

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell has been clear about his interest in the position and this week called on the political parties to state whether they would field candidates.

It is Craughwell’s insistence in keeping the issue live that has led McGuinness into saying that she believes there will be a contest.

“My instinct is there is likely to be a contest, and I say that on the basis that I don’t think Senator Craughwell will pull back from his position,” McGuinness told the Saturday with Claire Byrne programme this afternoon.

McGuinness sought Fine Gael’s nomination for the presidency in 2011 but lost out to Gay Mitchell. Asked about whether she would be interested in running again, the current MEP did not rule it out.

If there is a contest the political parties will have to have a conversation about what they’re going to do. The fact that I put myself forward for the nomination the last time round clearly shows that I have an interest, at that time. At the moment I’m first vice president of the European Parliament, Brexit is big issue that I’m working on so I would have to look at this.

“But I would really be guided by the party and what is the party’s decision and the councillors and TDs and Senators,” she added.

RTÉ Radio 1 / YouTube

When it was put to her that it sounded like she was steeling for a run , she said she would also like to hear what the other parties were thinking.

“I actually didn’t say that but that’s an interpretation, but I’d be interested to know would Miriam O’Callaghan be interested,” McGuinness said.

It’s long been speculated that RTÉ presenter O’Callaghan would consider a tilt at the highest office in the State and that she may have the support of Fianna Fáil if she were to do so.

Speaking on the same programme, Fianna Fáil TD Timmy Dooley said his party had not taken a decision on whether it would field a candidate. This despite a recent poll showing overwhelming support among party councillors that they run a candidate.

“That’ll be taken into account in due course as will the wider membership of the party. Councillors are being treated with the respect they deserve for the hard work they do across all political parties but there’s been no decision whatsoever. There will be a discussion at a later stage and I suspect that will come as soon as the current president sets out his stall,” Dooley said.

Read: ‘I’m not playing games – this is about winning the presidency’: Craughwell expecting to secure backing for Áras run >

Read: President Higgins is not ‘ruling anything out’ when it comes to running for a second term >

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