Seamus Heaney has turned down the opportunity to run for president of Ireland it has been learned.

The Nobel Prize in literature winner, now 71, was approached by the governing Fine Gael party to run and agreed it he could be an agreed  all party candidate for the job with no opposition.

However, a deal with other parties was impossible to bring about and Heaney decided not to let his name go forward.

Heaney would have been an extremely popular choice but has suffered from ill health in recent years as has his wife Marie.

Heaney, now 71, suffered a stroke some years ago but  has made a remarkable recovery and is back publishing books.

His wife, Marie suffered from breast cancer but she has also recovered.

However, it is considered likely that Heaney did not want to be seen as belonging to any political party and wanted to be an  unanimous choice.

Already Labor party figure Michael D.Higgins and independent senator David Norris have announced they will run as has former Labor party press handler Fergus Finlay.

Fine Gael  are now expected to choose from European Parliament member Sean Kelly, a former president of the GAA, Mairead McGuinness, another MEP and former Prime Minister John Bruton.

The Fianna Fail candidate is expected to be Brian Crowley, another MEP who is confined to a wheelchair after a boyhood accident.

Seamus HeaneyGoogle Images