President Michael D Higgins has told the government that he intends to run for a second term as Uachtarán na hÉireann.
According to the Irish Times President Higgins told several cabinet ministers of his intentions, with a formal announcement to the public expected next month.
The next presidential election has been set for this October. The government has decided that the vote will take place on October 26, alongside two referendums on blasphemy and text in the constitution on women’s place in the home.
A much beloved academic and humanist, President Higgins repeatedly said that he only intended to serve as President for one term during the 2011 election. If he does run again, it’s unlikely too many people will consider that a dealbreaker.
Though he was born in Limerick, President Higgins has set deep roots down in Galway, still making frequent trips back here since he was elected.
A graduate, and later a lecturer at NUI Galway back when it was still called University College Galway, it’s not uncommon to find the president on the university campus as he comes to deliver guest lectures.
It was here in Galway that the president started his political career, serving as Mayor of Galway and later as a TD for Galway West up until 2011 when he moved into Áras an Uachtaráin.
Even if he does decide to run we’re still likely to have a contested election. Though so far only Senator Gerard Craughwell has officially stated his intention to run, but Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said that her party intends to field a candidate.
Fianna Fáil passed a motion last year saying the party should also contend the election. But according to the Irish Times party leader Micheál Martin has privately told other party members that he doesn’t believe Fianna Fáil should run a candidate in this election.
There has been no statement from the Taoiseach yet about Fine Gael’s intentions this October.
Prior to becoming Uachtaráin na hÉireann Michael D was a member of the Labour party, but as a sitting president he is independent of any political party.
In order to get on the ballot for the presidency a candidate must have the backing of 20 members of the Oireachtas, either the Dáil or the Seanad, or four local authorities. Historically this has largely restricted independent candidates form running.
However a sitting President can nominate himself for the role without the backing of other, though President Higgins has the public support of many members of the government.
Come July, Michael D will be in Galway for the International Arts Festival where he will be the opening speaker for the First Though Talks strand of the festival.