President Higgins set to face at least two challengers in second-term run

Senator Pádraig Ó Céidigh likely to join Craughwell in seeking nomination

Second term: President Michael D Higgins with children at the Eleonas migrant and refugee camp during his visit to Greece, where he gave the first public confirmation that he might consider running again. Photograph: AFP/Getty

Second term: President Michael D Higgins with children at the Eleonas migrant and refugee camp during his visit to Greece, where he gave the first public confirmation that he might consider running again. Photograph: AFP/Getty

 

At least two Independent Senators are likely to try to challenge President Michael D Higgins should he decide to run for a second term. Gerard Craughwell has already confirmed his intention to seek a nomination. Now Pádraig Ó Céidigh, the former chief executive of Aer Arann, is also considering a challenge, according to informed sources.

Both senators would base their nomination campaigns on the undertaking President Higgins gave in 2011 to serve only one term if elected. The Irish Times reported last week that the President now intends to seek a second term of office, and will declare his intentions in July.

After that story, on a visit to Greece in recent days, President Higgins gave the first public confirmation that he might consider a second term. “Yes, I did say at one stage that getting through the term was in fact the length of my aspirations. I have changed my mind on that, because I do think that very solid foundations have been laid, and this leaves choices open as to what I may do,” he said.

Neither Fine Gael nor Fianna Fáil has yet said if it will contest the election, but the strong indications from both are that they will not challenge President Higgins should he decide to run.