Tuesday 18 December 2018

'I absolutely have energy for second term,' says Higgins

Michael D Higgins. Photo: MAXWELLPHOTOGRAPHY.IE
Michael D Higgins. Photo: MAXWELLPHOTOGRAPHY.IE
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

President Michael D Higgins has said he "absolutely" has the energy and capacity for a second term in Áras an Uachtaráin.

In the clearest signal yet that he is gearing up for an election campaign this autumn, Mr Higgins moved to dispel any talk that his age might be a factor.

The President, who turned 77 earlier this month, said he "absolutely" has an interest in seeking re-election.

"Have I the energy, have I the capacity to do so? I believe yes. But of course ultimately that's for the people to decide, and that suits me too as a campaigner all my life," he said.

While he has still not officially said he will run in a potential election this year, Mr Higgins's remarks indicate he believes he could take on a gruelling presidential election race.

It comes after he earlier this week said he expects to make his intentions known by July and added: "I've never ran away from a contest in my life. Why should I?"

Read more: 'I've never run from a contest': Higgins indicates he'll seek second Áras term

Mr Higgins was last night attending meetings with IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland client companies at the Irish consulate in New York.

He conducted interviews with the Irish diaspora media where he was asked if he had the interest and the energy for a second seven-year term. He responded "absolutely".

Earlier this week, Mr Higgins insisted his delay in announcing his intentions does not affect any other potential candidate. But he also said: "My decision will be my decision. I'm not standing in the way of anybody making a decision."

His five-day trip has been a chance for him to flex his presidential muscles, allowing him to show his credentials as a statesman, intellectual, and figurehead for the Irish community.

The visit has involved high-level diplomacy at the United Nations and meetings with the arts and business communities. He rounds it off this afternoon with a visit to Rockland GAA club, after he drops into St Barnabas' Church, the Bronx home of what is often described as the largest parish outside Ireland.

There have also been hints of the old firebrand, activist Mr Higgins. He has raised concerns about sexism in Donald Trump's America; the US plan to withdraw from the Paris climate change accord; and young people's views on the behaviour of the major powers at the United Nations Security Council.

Read more: Michael D Higgins criticises 'unapologetic sexism' in Trump's America

Thursday's packed itinerary showed he retains the energy necessary for a busy schedule of engagements, and a battle for the Áras.

Read more: Ministers back Higgins to serve second term

Irish Independent

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