Tuesday 22 January 2019

Ministers back Higgins to serve second term

President Michael D Higgins
President Michael D Higgins
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Fine Gael ministers are lining up to back Michael D Higgins for a second term in office after he strongly indicated he is up for another election.

The largest party in the Dáil is known not to be keen to expend time and resources fighting a presidential race.

And support for the incumbent now stretches right across the senior Cabinet ranks, including Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

Five ministers yesterday said they would like to see Mr Higgins (77) stay in Áras an Uachtaráin until 2025.

It comes after he gave the strongest hint yet that he intends to break his commitment to be a one-term president.

Speaking to the Irish Independent at the United Nations in New York, Mr Higgins said: "I've never run from a contest in my life."

Following the comments, Mr Coveney, Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy, Health Minister Simon Harris and Education Minister Richard Bruton all backed the former Labour Party TD.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan also concurred with the view that Mr Higgins has done a good job over the past seven years.

Senator Gerard Craughwell, who has publicly indicated he wants a nomination to contest the election, criticised Mr Higgins, saying it is "unseemly to see the President play games on this issue" by testing the waters.

Last night, the President attended a gala concert at New York's Symphony Space to celebrate the Irish Arts Centre in the city.

In his speech, Mr Higgins thanked actors Liam Neeson and Gabriel Byrne for their support of the Irish Arts Centre project.

Irish Independent

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