President Michael D Higgins back on Twitter as he kicks off Áras re-election campaign
President Michael D Higgins has reactivated his Twitter account and opened a new website as he kick-started his campaign to be returned to the Áras.
The sitting President, whose account last tweeted on the day of his inauguration on November 11, 2011, has posted a link to www.michaeld higgins.ie which calls on voters to "join the movement to re-elect Michael D Higgins".
Meanwhile, presidential hopeful Peter Casey got a major boost to his campaign after he secured the backing of two local authorities - Kerry and Clare - to contest the upcoming election.
The former 'Dragons' Den' star is now half-way to getting enough council support for his name to be added to the ballot paper in the race.
Elsewhere, artist Kevin Sharkey announced he has quit the contest, claiming it was a "circus".
Mr Higgins's website went live yesterday and those who sign up are thanked and told: "It's you - and thousands of like-minded people across the country - who will power this campaign, and help to re-elect Michael D as President of Ireland."
The message also urges supporters to share on social media that they've signed up to Mr Higgins's campaign.
Elsewhere, Mr Casey confirmed he was willing to spend up to the cap of €750,000 if he succeeded in getting into the race. Mr Casey, the founder of US recruitment firm Claddagh Resources, said he was "thrilled" after he got his second nomination at Clare County Council.
Originally from Derry, Mr Casey is moving to Ireland from his base in Atlanta, Georgia. Mr Casey said he was a "truly independent candidate" and had pledged that he would "put the same amount of energy and commitment into the role of president ... as I have done in every job or business I have worked in".
He needs the support of two more councils and will be attending local authority meetings in Limerick and Tipperary today.
Councils in Dublin City, Westmeath, Offaly, Laois and Kilkenny decided not to back a candidate.
Separately, Mr Sharkey announced his departure from the race with a Twitter post, saying he is going to focus on his art and a new music single. Mr Sharkey, who has received no council nominations, said: "I am leaving the circus", describing the contest as a "farce". He said he was focusing on new paintings called "The Presidential Collection 2018" and that he had an exhibition opening on Friday.
He rejected any suggestion that his tilt at the presidency had been about gaining publicity for his work as an artist.
"If you believe in something, you should stand up for it and that's what I did when I ran for the presidency," Mr Sharkey said.
He also endorsed fellow Áras hopeful, journalist Gemma O'Doherty.
Mr Casey's fellow Dragons Seán Gallagher and Gavin Duffy already have sufficient local authority support to take on Mr Higgins, who has the power to nominate himself.
Pieta House founder Senator Joan Freeman has also succeeded in getting on the ballot paper through the council route.
Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Riada, meanwhile, was selected as the party's candidate at the weekend.