President Higgins: Second term would be 'best way to spend next seven years of my life'

Meanwhile, Sean Gallagher has written to all local councils encouraging them to nominate a candidate

President Higgins: Second term would be 'best way to spend next seven years of my life'

President Higgins in Mayo, confirming his intention to seek a second term in office. Image: Sean Defoe

President Michael D Higgins says he has serious concerns about the future of the country, which have led him to run for a second term in office.

The President cited Brexit, the state of the EU and Northern Ireland as issues he wanted to help shape.

He officially launched his re-election bid today, and has informed the Government of his intention to seek a second term.

Speaking in Mayo this afternoon, President Higgins said a huge amount of people have approached him about running again - despite his earlier pledge to be a one-term president.

President Higgins observed: "The truth is, I'm not exactly stuck for something to do. But it is the best way I consider that I could spend the next seven years of my life."

He also dismissed concerns about his age.

Asked if he had worries about reaching his 80s in office if he got re-elected, he said: "My health is excellent. If I felt I couldn't be doing this job with energy, and getting the responses I've been getting for the last six years, I wouldn't be doing it."

He also dismissed concerns from Senator Gerard Craughwell that his late announcement was blocking competitors, arguing: "I have not delayed for a single day anybody who could have if they wanted to in seeking a nomination for the last six and a half years."

Potential candidates

Meanwhile, speculation has mounted that 2011 presidential candidate Sean Gallagher may enter the race again.

He's written to all local councils encouraging them to allow a race to happen - although did not formally say he wants to be on the ticket.

The businessman wrote: "It now rests fully with the elected members of every local authority to ensure that the election to the highest office in the land is not stymied by any individual, group or political party."

A number of people, including artist Kevin Sharkey and Senator Craughwell, have expressed their interest in running, while Fine Gael and Sinn Féin will decide in the coming week whether they'll put a nominee forward.

Additional reporting by Stephen McNeice