Four Ministers row in behind second term for Michael D Higgins

President says he has ‘never run away from a contest in my life. Why should I?’

President  Michael D Higgins addresses the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace at United Nations headquarters in New York on  Tuesday . Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

President Michael D Higgins addresses the High-Level Meeting on Peacebuilding and Sustaining Peace at United Nations headquarters in New York on Tuesday . Photograph: Mike Segar/Reuters

 

Four Government Ministers have committed their support to President Micheál D Higgins to remain in office.

Eoghan Murphy, Charlie Flanagan, Simon Harris and Richard Bruton told The Irish Times they would support a second term for Mr Higgins,  who turned 77 last week.

Speaking in New York on Tuesday, Mr Higgins gave a strong indication he will seek re-election.

“My decision will be my decision. I’m not standing in the way of anybody making a decision," he said.  “I’ve never run away from a contest in my life. Why should I?”

Speaking on Wednesday morning, Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy said Mr Higgins is doing a fantastic job and he “would like to see him stay on” for a second seven-year term.

Minister for Education Richard Bruton said he has been a big admirer of the President all his political life.

This sentiment was echoed by the Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan and Minister for Health Simon Harris, who stressed they would like Mr Higgins to remain in office.

A number of politicians have already said they will challenge Mr Higgins.

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell claims to have the support of the 20 members of the Oireachtas required to get on the ballot paper for a presidential election.

As the incumbent,  Mr Higgins can nominate himself for a second term.

Both Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin have declined to comment until President Higgins makes his intentions known.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said her party will participate if there is a contest for the position.