MICHAEL D HIGGINS has confirmed he will seek a second term in the Áras, as had been widely expected.
The President said on the night of his election in 2011 that he did not intend to seek a second term, but his position has shifted in recent years.
He had said he would address the issue “in the fullness of time”. Last autumn he said he would make his intentions clear by September 2018, but in recent weeks it was made clear he would declare his intentions at some stage this month.
A statement issued today says:
“President Michael D. Higgins wishes to confirm that he will be offering himself as an independent candidate, under Article 12.4.4 of Bunreacht na hÉireann, when the Ministerial Order for a Presidential Election is made later in the year.
“The Government has been informed of this decision.
“The President’s programme of official duties and engagements continues.”
Speaking to reporters today, Martin said Higgins had been a strong president, “he has been engaging, and he has represented the country abroad with distinction”.
“He has reached out to communities across this country, particularly to young people, and in that instance I believe he is worthy of reelection and that is why we don’t have a hesitation in supporting him and endorsing him for a second term.”
A decision on whether Sinn Féin will contest the presidential election, which would be held in October, will be made at the party’s Ard Comhairle on Saturday.
Fine Gael is yet to make an official decision, but Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has indicated he’s likely to back Higgins for a second term. The issue will be discussed at the weekly Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting tomorrow.
A candidate needs the support of 20 Oireachtas members or four local authorities to get on the ballot. So far, independent senator Gerard Craughwell is the most high-profile likely opponent for Higgins.
“I don’t believe anyone is unbeatable, including the incumbent,” he said today – although he admitted it would be a difficult contest to win.
- With reporting by Paul Hosford