Wednesday 13 December 2017

Higgins (74) won't rule out running for Áras again in 2018

President Higgins in The Chihuly Workshop and Boathouse, Seattle
President Higgins in The Chihuly Workshop and Boathouse, Seattle
President Higgins visits the United Irish Cultural Centre in San Francisco where he met with with representatives of Irish Community organisations
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Michael D Higgins has veered away from his long-held stance that he will be a one-term president.

The 74-year-old, who is just over half-way through his seven-year term in Áras an Uachtaráin, told reporters he would give "neither a yes nor a no" when asked if he would seek re-election.

At the time of his election in 2011, Mr Higgins said he would not look for a second term. But there has been mounting speculation that he may have changed his mind.

"In the fullness of time, when it's appropriate, I'll address that issue," he said, adding: "Who are any of us to guess what circumstances will belie."

In June, former Labour Party leader Eamon Gilmore said publicly he believed Mr Higgins should go back on his one-term statement and seek re-election.

"I think Michael D is doing a great job and I think he should stand again. It's as simple as that," Mr Gilmore told the Irish Independent at the time.

Speaking during an official visit to California, Mr Higgins said he was pleased with his presidency to date and was working on a number of themes highlighted in his inauguration speech. He said he wanted to bring a kind of "moral compass" into decision-making and would focus his efforts in the coming years on global debt, development, migration and global macroeconomics.

Mr Higgins also said his work has been receiving good feedback from other heads of state.

He also criticised the United Nations, saying he was "sometimes not optimistic" about the debate over reforming the organisation.

The former arts minister said the pace of decision-making at the UN and EU was too slow and he often looked on them "with a certain amount of despair".

He said when people came together to "take decisions that affect humanity and affect Europe and affect very large numbers of people, you cannot ever justify your slowness by saying these issues are complicated".

Mr Higgins spent yesterday in San Franciso, where he said the Irish "have always played an important role" in public life.

"The Irish, through their roles in the uniformed services, and as teachers, and nurses and other caring professionals, have played a critical role in building and developing the community life of San Francisco, a role that I know continues through the strong Irish-American presence in all of these public services," he told an audience of over 500 people at Filoli House, outside the city.

"Today we witness a new generation of migrants, born and educated in a very different Ireland to that from which so many of their predecessors emigrated.

"They come here as ambassadors of a modern, innovative and forward-looking Ireland, anxious and willing to play their part in building a world yet unseen," he said.

Mr Higgins also mentioned the thousands of undocumented Irish, saying: "We must all continue to hope and work in our different ways so that their situations can be resolved before much more time elapses."

Irish Independent

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