Who is next for the Áras?
Published 10/05/2015 | 02:30
The election may be three-and-a-half years away but speculation is growing about just who will be in the frame to succeed Michael D Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin.
Fine Gael has never had a President, but that could change in 2018 with the popular journalist-turned-politician. The Louth woman sought the party's nomination in 2011 but lost out to Gay Mitchell. His disastrous showing proved they'd made the wrong call. She has been an MEP since 2004.
The politico, who is currently chief executive of Barnardos children's charity, was keen to run in 2011, but Labour chose Michael D Higgins. He has plenty experience of presidential campaigns, having been one of the masterminds of Mary Robinson's success in 1990.
The popular broadcaster has been tipped by many for the Áras in 2018, but she's keeping her cards close to her chest. "I have no idea where the rumours are coming from and why they are happening now," she said on Wednesday. "They are certainly not coming from anyone close to me. We have a wonderful President, so let us enjoy his presidency. 2018 is a long way off."
The Sinn Féin veteran finished third in 2011, but with his party consistently doing well in the polls in the Republic, the time might be even more fortuitous for him to seek the presidency in 2018. Party president Gerry Adams might have his eye on the Áras, too.
Much depends on what happens in next year's General Election, but if the Taoiseach found himself in the opposition rather than in government (or if the party opted to change leader), he would surely be a strong candidate. And his age then (68) would hardly be a deterrent to him - or to voters. Odds 25/1
The Tanaiste will be 71 in 2018, just a year older than Michael D Higgins was when he stood four years ago, so her age is unlikely to matter to the electorate. Labour have done worse than coalition partner Fine Gael in the polls, although the Dubliner remains widely admired. ODDS 40/1
The Louth man was favourite to win the presidency in 2011, but came undone during a contentious appearance on RTÉ's The Frontline. He still managed to bag more than half a million first-preference votes and might feel that he still has a chance in 2018. "I do not wish to make any comment," he said this week. Odds 66/1
Considering Bono's relationships with the global political elite, seeing the man born Paul Hewson in the Áras wouldn't require a huge leap of the imagination. U2 are about to embark on a major world tour, and there will probably be another album after that. Perhaps a dark horse (in shades) for the 2025 election? Odds 100/1
Rory O'Neills' drag queen alter ego has been a leading light in the marriage equality Yes campaign while the Dublin-based Mayoman himself is a canny entrepreneur. Could there be a greater sign of Ireland's transformation from those days when an ageing De Valera was our head of state?
Odds courtesy Paddy Power