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Dublin: 11 °C Tuesday 19 March, 2019

'That has to be settled': Michael D Higgins refuses to say whether he'll partake in presidential debates

The incumbent president announced earlier this summer that he would seek a second term in office.

President Michael D Higgins at the National Ploughing Championships this morning
President Michael D Higgins at the National Ploughing Championships this morning
Image: Twitter/@DaraghBroph

MICHAEL D HIGGINS has refused to say whether he will take part in debates against his rivals in next month’s presidential election.

The 77 year-old has held the office since 2011 and revealed he would seek re-election earlier this summer, with his campaign kicking-off properly yesterday when his website went live.

Appearing at the opening of the National Ploughing Championships today, Higgins revealed that he was “looking forward to” the campaign.

However, he refused to be drawn on whether he would take part in any debates with other potential candidates before the 26 October election.

“All of that has to be settled of course,” Higgins said when asked by

“You know very very well, I have never ever pulled back from most things. But it is all to be negotiated. My campaign team will be discussing [it with] people.”

The president also called for a respectful campaign from candidates over the course of the next five weeks.

“I think what’s very important about it is just, let’s have a campaign now,” he said.

“You’ve heard me speaking about real issues. Let [the campaign] be about real issues and let it be dignified.”

As it stands, voters will choose between one of Higgins, Gavin Duffy, Joan Freeman, Sean Gallagher, and Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada.

Eight local authorities are still to vote on whether they will nominate a candidate, with presidential hopefuls requiring the backing of four councils to earn a place on the ballot.

With additional reporting from Daragh Brophy.

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