Saturday 10 December 2016

Higgins would get 'enormous' support for a second term

Published 01/06/2016 | 02:30

Minister Leo Varadkar with President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Frank McGrath
Minister Leo Varadkar with President Michael D Higgins. Photo: Frank McGrath

Michael D Higgins would receive "strong cross-party support" if he were to seek a second term as President, Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

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And the minister has indicated that he hopes Taoiseach Enda Kenny will remain in position for "many years ahead".

Mr Varadkar was speaking just days after the Irish Independent revealed that his colleague Paschal Donohoe will not enter the race to replace Mr Kenny as leader of Fine Gael when he steps down ahead of the next General Election.

Asked if Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald might run for Áras an Uachtaráin in the future, the minister said that that was a question for her.

"The current President is making an excellent president. The first issue will be whether he wants to seek a second term or not. I think if he did he'd have enormous support," he said.

He said it would be up to others to decide whether Mr Higgins could return unopposed, but added that he believed there would be strong cross-party support for the 75-year-old.

On the race for the leadership of Fine Gael, Mr Varadkar said there is "no contest and no vacancy".

"My absolute priority at this stage is to focus on making this new government work," he said.

"I'm not ruling myself out. But I'm not really in that space at the moment. I hope the Taoiseach has many years ahead," he added.

Earlier this week the fourth potential candidate, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe, told the Irish Independent he would not be part of the contest.

Irish Independent

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