Thursday 19 October 2017

FF may fight next election for President

President Michael D Higgins/ Photo: Mark Condren
President Michael D Higgins/ Photo: Mark Condren
John Downing

John Downing

Fianna Fáil may foil growing efforts to have President Michael D Higgins returned unopposed for a second term.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin has repeated his enthusiastic calls for President Higgins to seek a second term and there are also supportive noises coming from Fine Gael.

Fianna Fáil's attitude would be pivotal in determining whether an election is required. In the history of the office only one incumbent president, Éamon de Valera in 1965, has fought for re-election - all others were returned unopposed.

President Higgins, who originally said he was only seeking one seven-year stint, will be 77 when his term ends in autumn 2018, and would be close to his 85th birthday at the end of a second term.

In the wake of the General Election and 70 days without a government, the issue of the presidency is only now being talked about in political circles.

Opinion within Fianna Fáil is divided on the issue. Some believe it may prove difficult to find a suitable candidate and that a contest against President Higgins, who they privately acknowledge has performed well, would be hard to win.

But others believe that, given their veritable resurrection in last February's election, when they went from 20 to 44 TDs, they should contest the presidency.

Others, such as Limerick City TD Willie O'Dea, believe the party has no choice but to contest in 2018: "It is very early in the process and we have had no discussion. But my own personal view is that we should contest the presidency. The circumstances in 2011, when we did not contest, were unique, and things are different now," he said.

Irish Independent

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