Sunday 25 February 2018

Aras hopeful Higgins won't run for Dail if election held early

Fionnan Sheahan

PRESIDENTIAL hopeful Michael D Higgins says he won't run for the Dail if there's an early general election in the next year.

The Labour Party will have to line up a replacement for another veteran TD as Mr Higgins told the Irish Independent he would give up his seat to concentrate on his bid to become president, if the Government collapses in the next 12 months.

"It wouldn't make sense to me to stand in the general election and then a short period after that run for the presidency. It wouldn't have a ring of authenticity to me," Mr Higgins said.

The former Arts Minister has confirmed he is interested in running for president but will have to see off former party adviser Fergus Finlay to get the Labour nomination.

Mr Higgins (69) said party leader Eamon Gilmore and his officials were aware of his position on the general election.

And the party executive in his Galway West constituency will be reviewing its candidate line-up in the coming weeks.

"I have told them they should go ahead and do that," he said.

Mr Higgins marked 25 years in the Dail last weekend. He was first elected in 1981, lost his seat in the second election of 1982, but won it back in 1987 and has been ever present since.

In the event of Mr Higgins not running, the focus locally will inevitably shift to one of his four children, Alice, Michael, John or Daniel, standing as a candidate.

Mr Higgins and Mr Finlay both signaled their intention to seek the party nomination in the past few weeks.

The candidate will be selected by 36 senior figures, including 28 TDs, senators and MEPs.

Party colleagues believe Mr Higgins is an early favourite to win the contest given his closeness to TDs and senators and his general popularity across the party.

His candidacy also received the backing of Fine Gael TD Brian Hayes, who said there would be merit in examining a sole nomination for the post.

Irish Independent

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