Higgins hints at second-term decision after possible trip to Canada in May

President says he will have ‘a very clear view’ on whether to run again after potential visit

President Michael D Higgins during a visit Warwick, Australia, to attend a reception for the Irish Diaspora. Photograph: Maxwell’s

President Michael D Higgins during a visit Warwick, Australia, to attend a reception for the Irish Diaspora. Photograph: Maxwell’s

 

President Michael D Higgins has said he may make a decision on whether to run for a second presidential term after the State visit to Canada that was now being considered for next May.

Speaking on the penultimate day of his State visit to Australia, Mr Higgins said: “It might be May or whatever,” he said. “Then after that I will have a very clear view.”

During the 2011 presidential campaign, Mr Higgins said that he would only serve a single term but he has since then refused to rule out the possibility that he might run for a second.

Earlier on his visit to Australia, the President said that he may make a decision next summer but on Sunday he suggested a more specific date around when his intentions will be known.

Looking back on his seven-stop, 19-day Australian visit, he said it had been “demanding, but very good”, and had given him the chance to showcase Ireland at business and tourism events and meet with Irish immigrants.

“When I mean demanding about it, it was given depth,” he said. “Frequently, for example, because the trip was going so well, I took on additional meetings, and I was very delighted to do so.”

Asked if the demanding nature of lengthy foreign trips would figure in his consideration of a second term, Mr Higgins (76) said he would “take everything into account”.

“I would really find it an extraordinary construction if someone suggested that because my trips are going so well that I should be disqualifying myself from any of my options,” he said.

Every commitment in the Australian trip had been met, he told The Irish Times: “There is nothing in this that I haven’t been able to meet in terms of challenges.”

His own decisions should not stop anyone else: “None of this decision-making of mine is standing by way of any obstacle to anybody else who wants to say what they want to wish for by way of being President of Ireland,” he said. 

“That is the way it has always been. That is the way I became President myself.”

Mr Higgins travels on to New Zealand on Wednesday for the next stage of his trip. It will be the eighth State visit of his presidency.