The President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, has said he will be “offering himself as an independent candidate” for the upcoming presidential campaign.
President Higgins is currently in Mayo and expected to speak about his decision, which was been submitted to the Irish government, on Tuesday afternoon. Higgins (77) was elected as president in 2012.
Higgins is supported by Fianna Fáil and Labour. It is expected he will also be supported by Fine Gael. The are expected to make their decision on Wednesday evening.
If other presidential candidate decides to content Higgins decision he will need the backing of 20 members of the Oireachtas (Ireland’s parliament) or four local authorities. Two independent senators, Gerard Craughwell and Padraig Ó Céidigh, along with Senator Joan Freeman, have all expressed an interest.
Craughwell said Higgins' announcement is a strategic move to eliminate the possibility of an election. He told RTE he was deeply disappointed and angered by the timing of the announcement.
It’s believed that the political party Sinn Fein, led by Mary Lou McDonald, will make an announcement on Saturday (July 14). McDonald has previously said that Higgins would not be allowed to roll unopposed into a second term.
The Sinn Fein President said the presidential election would afford the nation of Ireland the opportunity to have a “conversation” about where Ireland is going.
She added that she wished President Higgins well and said, “he is a person who has served with distinction and who has done the entire country proud".
"It is my own view that now is a time when we need a large national conversation about Ireland not just over the coming seven years but beyond that".
"The last election was seven years ago lots has changed since that time" she said.
If a presidential election is held it will take place on October 25 or 26 2018. On the same day the citizens of Ireland will be asked to give their view on two referendums – blasphemy and the Constitution article on the women’s place in the home.
Unlike Sinn Fein the Labour Party Leader Brendan Howlin has welcomed the decision of Michael D Higgins to seek a second term as president. Higgins was a Labour candidate in the 2011 presidential campaign.
People before Profit politician Bríd Smith said she would like to see Higgins run unopposed without the need for a presidential election later this year.
“I would be happy to support Michael D Higgins and I think most people believe, in so far as a figurehead exists and does so much for the country, that he has done a reasonably good job.
"He is quite a bold and a brave individual. He is somebody that by in large is on the right side of history and I would be happy to support his presidency.
“I wouldn’t be interested in seeing an election. If he is prepared to go forward then I think we should endorse him and say ‘go for it’.
“If an election happens an election happens but I would be happy for him go forward unopposed.”