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President of Ireland Michael D Higgins at the first day of the Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore. Sam Boal via Rolling News
To be confirmed

President Higgins is not 'ruling anything out' when it comes to running for a second term

Higgins officially opened the National Ploughing Championships this afternoon.

PRESIDENT MICHAEL D Higgins has said he “is not ruling out” running for a second term in office next year.

Higgins was speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning before officially opening the National Ploughing Championships at midday.

During the 2011 presidential election, Higgins repeatedly pledged that he would only stand for a single seven-year term. However, since being elected, the president has refused to rule out the possibility of a second run for Áras an Uachtaráin.

A presidential election is due to be held in October 2018. If no-one contests the election, current president Higgins could be given a free run at a second term.

Higgins told O’Rourke that by the time of the next year’s event “you should have a very, very good idea” about his intentions to run.

“My concentration, as it is now, is on doing this term very well and that’s why I don’t answer the question now,” Higgins said.

My concentration is on doing the job I’m doing and I’m getting great support from the Irish public.

“In the fullness of my time, it is just my decision, it doesn’t affect anyone else. I’m being dead straight about it, I haven’t ruled anyone out and therefore by the time of the ploughing next year the numbers will be up again,” he said.

Higgins said that he has a full schedule over the next year and he wants to pay his engagements his full attention.

He said that he has a trip to Australia and New Zealand planned for October. Following this he has European visits in spring and he hopes to visit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Canada.

“Then we’ll run through the summer with a set of maybe eight garden parties,” he said.

After that, I will make an announcement as to what my intentions are.

“I think what is very, very important, you must bear in mind, anyone who has become involved with, by writing to the president and setting up any kind of function between now and that time… they’re entitled to be given my full concentration and that’s exactly what I’m doing,” Higgins said.

Backing from Leo 

In July, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hinted that he would back Higgins for a second term.

“The thing we don’t know yet is whether President Higgins is going to renominate himself,” Varadkar said.

“I think he has done a fabulous job as president. I have really liked working alongside him… I really already lean on his advice and his experience. It is an advantage as a young Taoiseach to have an experienced president to bounce things off and consult with. So the first decision – before we even think about other candidates – is to see whether President Higgins nominates himself.”

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