Michael D Higgins’ imminent appointment as President of Ireland has been roundly welcomed by the candidates who lost out in the election.
The Labor Party winner has been congratulated by his six rivals and the leaders of all Ireland’s political parties after his emphatic win at the polls.
Independent Sean Gallagher, clear favorite for the Aras before last week’s dramatic live TV debate linked him to Fianna Fail, led the tributes.
“I congratulate Michael D on his success. He will have my full support as president and I sincerely thank him for a positive campaign. His slogan stated that he would be a president to be proud of and I believe he will be that president,” said a magnanimous Gallagher.
Senator David Norris was the first candidate to concede defeat in the count and also the first to contact Higgins.
“I’d like to send my love and congratulations to Michael D, to Sabina and the rest of the family,” said Higgins.
“It must be a very, very happy day for them and I also think it’s a good day for Ireland because, although he is a Labour Party member, Michael D, like myself, is a little bit of a maverick and when you have such a concentration of power in the hands of the coalition I think it’s good to have somebody who will be in a position morally and intellectually to speak out on behalf of the marginalised.
“I know that Michael D will do that. So I’ll be very happy to be an Irish man under the presidency of Michael D Higgins.”
Independent Mary Davis said: “Congratulations Michael. I wish him success for the next seven years in the Áras.”
Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell shrugged off his own disappointing show to congratulate his rival. “Michael D Higgins will make an excellent president and his wife, Sabina, will be an excellent first lady,” said Mitchell.
“My loyal support is with them and I wish them every blessing for the years ahead.”
Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said: “Michael will make a fine president. I wish him well for his seven years in the Áras.”
Independent candidate Dana Rosemary Scallon said: “Michael’s wife Sabina and his family are a great support to him.
“I hope their time in Áras an Uachtaráin will be happy and successful. I’m sure the supporters in Galway are particularly proud of him at this time.”
Labor Party leader Eamon Gilmore was a proud man as he embraced the result of the Presidential election.
“I am absolutely thrilled that Michael D Higgins will be the next president of Ireland,” said Gilmore.
“The response to Michael from people on the campaign trail was the warmest I have ever seen for any person in an election.”
“The Frontline programme on Monday night had a huge bearing on the outcome but Michael didn’t engage in any name calling and ran a campaign that was based on ideas.”
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Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said: “Today is an exceptionally proud day for Michael D, his wife Sabina and their family.
“Michael will make an excellent president and ambassador for Ireland. His command of global issues and commitment to human rights is significant and I have no doubt that human rights and humanitarian issues will be a significant part of his presidency.”
Fine Gael’s Leo Varadkar said: “I think that’s a wonderful result for him and I’m really delighted about that.”
Former president Mary Robinson also sent her congratulations to Higgins.
“I wish him every good health and happiness as he sets out to fulfil his vision for the Presidency and builds on the excellent work he has undertaken in his time as a public representative and teacher,” said Robinson.
“He will be enormously supported by the very strong mandate he has received in the election.”