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Michael D Higgins is re-elected as President in landslide win

  • Incumbent sails to a win on the first count
  • Businessman Peter Casey soars from just 2pc in the polls to second place
  • Casey, who got the country talking this week, is not ruling out a future in politics
  • Presidential hopeful Joan Freeman congratulates President Higgins on his win

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Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins

Michael D Higgins

Micheal D Higgins has been re-elected as President of Ireland.

Sitting comfortably on top of the polls since the campaign began, the incumbent sailed through to a win on the first count with 822,566 first preference votes or 55.8 per cent of total valid votes.

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Michael D Higgins with his wife Sabina

Michael D Higgins with his wife Sabina

Michael D Higgins with his wife Sabina

During an impassioned acceptance speech, President Higgins said: "People have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they prefer... I will be a President for all of the people."

Businessman Peter Casey, who struggled at just 2pc in the polls last week, soared into second place with 342, 727 votes (23.3pc).

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Peter Casey pictured at the Convention Centre (Photo: Mark Condren)

Peter Casey pictured at the Convention Centre (Photo: Mark Condren)

Peter Casey pictured at the Convention Centre (Photo: Mark Condren)

Sean Gallagher, who came second in his 2011 bid, achieved just 94,514 votes, coming in third with 6.41pc.

Liadh Ni Riada came fourth, with 93,987 votes (6.37pc).

Joan Freeman earned just 87,908 votes (6.0pc), while Gavin Duffy failed to make an impression on the electorate and gained just 32,198 votes (2.2pc).

In the Presidential Election, there were a total of 1,473,900 valid votes.

Michael D Higgins used his re-election speech to call for an end to the “scourge of violence against women”.

The President promised to represent everybody in the country, regardless of whether they voted for him or not.

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Presidential candidate Joan Freeman casts her vote with her husband Pat at the Scoil Mhuire polling station in Lucan this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin

Presidential candidate Joan Freeman casts her vote with her husband Pat at the Scoil Mhuire polling station in Lucan this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin

Presidential candidate Joan Freeman casts her vote with her husband Pat at the Scoil Mhuire polling station in Lucan this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin

And in a thinly veiled reference to the debate about the Traveller community which dominated the campaign, Mr Higgins said: “Words matter. Words can hurt. Words can heal. Words can empower. Words can divide.”

He promised to identify those facing exclusion in society, which he said was “more than just eliminating barriers, it means the exercising of new initiations”.

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Ready for battle: The candidates in the RTÉ radio centre ahead of the first presidential debate on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin

Ready for battle: The candidates in the RTÉ radio centre ahead of the first presidential debate on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin

Class act: Presidential candidate Seán Gallagher at St Laurence’s Primary School, Co Wicklow, with his wife Trish and their son Bobby (5), and other pupils from Bobby’s class. Photo: Colin Keegan

Class act: Presidential candidate Seán Gallagher at St Laurence’s Primary School, Co Wicklow, with his wife Trish and their son Bobby (5), and other pupils from Bobby’s class. Photo: Colin Keegan

Presidential candidate Gavin Duffy buys his wife Orlaith a rose (Niall Carson/PA)

Presidential candidate Gavin Duffy buys his wife Orlaith a rose (Niall Carson/PA)

Structures need to be put in place: Sinn Féin’s presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada

Structures need to be put in place: Sinn Féin’s presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada

Planning ahead: President Michael D Higgins consults a member of his staff at his campaign office in Dublin as he prepares his bid for a further seven years in Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: David Conachy

Planning ahead: President Michael D Higgins consults a member of his staff at his campaign office in Dublin as he prepares his bid for a further seven years in Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: David Conachy

Gavin Duffy and Joan Freeman at Meath County Council Offices. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

Gavin Duffy and Joan Freeman at Meath County Council Offices. Photo: Seamus Farrelly

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar canvassing for Michael D Higgins on Grafton Street  (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar canvassing for Michael D Higgins on Grafton Street (Photo: Kyran O'Brien)

Protest: Members of the Travelling community protest against Peter Casey at Carbragh Bridge. Photo: PA

Protest: Members of the Travelling community protest against Peter Casey at Carbragh Bridge. Photo: PA

Mr Casey visited a housing development intended for the Traveller community on Thursday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Mr Casey visited a housing development intended for the Traveller community on Thursday (Brian Lawless/PA)

Controversial Presidential campaign Peter Casey has paid a visit to the houses built for Traveller families in Tipperary (Photo: Mark Condren)

Controversial Presidential campaign Peter Casey has paid a visit to the houses built for Traveller families in Tipperary (Photo: Mark Condren)

Line up: The Presidential candidates with Pat Kenny (centre) for the TV debate on Wednesday. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Line up: The Presidential candidates with Pat Kenny (centre) for the TV debate on Wednesday. Photo: Brian McEvoy

Sinn Féin’s Presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada with party leader Mary-Lou McDonald. Picture: Steve Humphreys

Sinn Féin’s Presidential candidate Liadh Ní Riada with party leader Mary-Lou McDonald. Picture: Steve Humphreys

The ballot box is taken to Tory Island, off the coast of Co Donegal (Niall Carson/PA)

The ballot box is taken to Tory Island, off the coast of Co Donegal (Niall Carson/PA)

26/10/2018, Sal Healy with her dog Roxy walks past Drumcondra National School after voting in the presidential election. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM

26/10/2018, Sal Healy with her dog Roxy walks past Drumcondra National School after voting in the presidential election. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM

Handout photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @Yokeups of her dog Buffy waiting outside a polling station in Ireland, as the country goes to the polls to vote in the Irish presidential election.  Siobhan Quill/PA Wire

Handout photo taken with permission from the Twitter feed of @Yokeups of her dog Buffy waiting outside a polling station in Ireland, as the country goes to the polls to vote in the Irish presidential election. Siobhan Quill/PA Wire

President Michael D Higgins casts his vote with his wife Sabina for the Presidential Election at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park this morning.
Photo: Tony Gavin 26/10/2018

President Michael D Higgins casts his vote with his wife Sabina for the Presidential Election at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/10/2018

26/10/2018, Sean Gallagher casts his vote in the presidential election with his wife Trish and son, bobby, 5, at the Charlesland sports and recreation centre in Greystones. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM

26/10/2018, Sean Gallagher casts his vote in the presidential election with his wife Trish and son, bobby, 5, at the Charlesland sports and recreation centre in Greystones. Pic credit; Damien Eagers / INM

Gavin Duffy and his wife Orlaith Carmody casting their vote at Whitecross National School in Julianstown, Co Meath. Picture: Mark Condren

Gavin Duffy and his wife Orlaith Carmody casting their vote at Whitecross National School in Julianstown, Co Meath. Picture: Mark Condren

President Michael D Higgins leaves the polling station with his wife Sabina after voting in the Presidential Election at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park this morning.
Photo: Tony Gavin 26/10/2018

President Michael D Higgins leaves the polling station with his wife Sabina after voting in the Presidential Election at St Mary’s Hospital, Phoenix Park this morning. Photo: Tony Gavin 26/10/2018

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks with ex-presidential candidate Peter Casey at Dublin Castle. Picture: Damien Eagers

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar speaks with ex-presidential candidate Peter Casey at Dublin Castle. Picture: Damien Eagers

Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina arrive at Dublin Castle to attend the count in Ireland's presidential election. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina arrive at Dublin Castle to attend the count in Ireland's presidential election. Niall Carson/PA Wire

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina outside Aras an Uachtarain.
Photo: David Conachy

President Michael D Higgins and his wife Sabina outside Aras an Uachtarain. Photo: David Conachy

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Ready for battle: The candidates in the RTÉ radio centre ahead of the first presidential debate on Saturday. Photo: Tony Gavin

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“A real Republic is a Republic of equality, of shared vulnerabilities and of collective capacities.

“A real Republic is one where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully and where every person and community is treated with dignity and respect.”

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Presidential Candidates Gavin Duffy, MEP Liadh Ní Riada, Peter Casey, Sean Gallagher and Senator Joan Freeman pictured alongside Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates 
Picture: Brian McEvoy

Presidential Candidates Gavin Duffy, MEP Liadh Ní Riada, Peter Casey, Sean Gallagher and Senator Joan Freeman pictured alongside Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates Picture: Brian McEvoy

Presidential Candidates Gavin Duffy, MEP Liadh Ní Riada, Peter Casey, Sean Gallagher and Senator Joan Freeman pictured alongside Matt Cooper and Ivan Yates Picture: Brian McEvoy

The 77-year-old received the largest ever mandate in the history of the State, albeit from the lowest ever turnout in a presidential election.

He received 822, 566 votes, amounting to 55.8pc of the vote.

Standing in front of his five rivals at Dublin Castle, Mr Higgins said he campaigned on “values which the Irish public have now overwhelmingly chosen as reflecting what they believe to be the important and necessary basis for Ireland and our future”.

“The Presidency of Ireland draws its strength and independent mandate from the direct vote of the people of Ireland. It represents Ireland – in all our strengths and vulnerabilities,” he said.

However, he said the country is “now in a time of transformation” and through the presidency he hoped to allow “an independent space where new ideas and possibilities can emerge”.

Mr Higgins noted that the years ahead will see the commemoration of “challenging, often difficult, periods of our history” including the centenary of the first Dáil next year.

“This task will require sensitive thought, reflection and understanding – an ethics of memory and a narrative of hospitality, enabling different versions of shared events to be placed side by side, uncomfortable truths acknowledged.”

Over the next years in Áras an Uachtarain, the President said he would represent “Ireland’s voice, as we face challenges that are global”.

“The urgent need to end the scourge of violence against women cannot be deferred, but must be ended now,” he said to applause.

“I will, on your behalf, represent an Ireland committed to a peaceful world and a shared planet and together we will ensure that Ireland’s voice matters.

“This is a time to be active rather than passive, and clear choices are opening up as to what will be the character of our Irishness.”

He concluded the country had voted  for “the making of hope” rather “than the experience of any exploitation of fear”.

“I will be a President for all the people, for those who voted for me and those who did not. I am so proud of our country, I am proud to be a President for all of you and with all of you, and I look forward with joy and hope to all that we will achieve together.”

The defeated candidates congratulated Mr Higgins after his speech and all expressed no regrets about entering the campaign.

Senator Joan Freeman said she wanted to remark on the "courage of the candidates".

"It's not easy to have yourself scrutinised, criticised and sometimes brutalised.

"But I think we showed great courage and at the end of it I want to have a glass of wine with them at some stage just to share and just to talk and just to see what it was like for all of us."

Peter Casey, who finished second and spoke directly after Mr Higgins,  said: "I hate following a great orator - one of the best... In the words of Elizabeth Taylor to her seventh husband 'I won't be keeping you long'".

He said his vote of more than 342,000 was a "23,000pc improvement" on the 13 votes he got in the 2016 Seanad election.

Businessman Seán Gallagher wished Mr Higgins every success in the next seven years.

He called for a focus on opportunity over cynicism in Ireland.

He said: "Cynicism does not create change. Positive change only comes from challenging the status quo.

"To achieve this we need new ideas driven by brave people who are willing to step into the arena rather than commentate from the sidelines.

"As Teddy Roosevelt said it is not the voice of he critic that counts.

"The credit goes to the man who is actually in the arena whose face is marked with dust and sweat and blood."

Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada said: "It was important that we had this election. There was a democratic process in place and the people of Ireland spoke today and spoke with a resounding yes to put Michael D Higgins back in office".

She added: "I look to forward to the conversation about a United Ireland being firmly on the agenda particularly in light of Brexit coming along and I also hope this is the last election that we have where our citizens in the North won't have a vote".

Dragons' Den star Gavin Duffy addressed Mr Higgins saying: "Uachtaráin it is fantastic that you are returned tonight with such a strong mandate and that doesn't happen... unless people put themselves forward and contest the election."


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