Higgins says reports of FF presidential move ‘metaphysical’

Speaking from Australia President says ‘I don’t simply take up threats or hints or whatever’

Speaking during his State visit to Australia, President Michael D. Higgins has brushed off reports that Fianna Fáil may decide early next year to put forward a presidential candidate in 2018. Video: Simon Carswell

 

President Michael D Higgins has brushed off reports that Fianna Fáil may decide early next year whether to put forward a presidential candidate in 2018, saying that their considerations “sounded quite metaphysical.”

Speaking on his State visit to Australia, Mr Higgins repeated his stated position that he would not make a decision on whether to seek a second seven-year term until next year and indicated he would not be pushed into making a decision.

“I don’t simply take up threats or hints or whatever,” he said when asked whether Fianna Fáil’s decision to run a candidate in the 2018 presidential election would figure in his considerations around possibly seeking a second term.

The decision on whether he would run again “wouldn’t be at the top of my mind,” he said. “But I have read the reports and it is a matter for Fianna Fail to take decisions for the Fianna Fail party,” the President added, speaking to reporters after an event at the Sydney Opera House.

In Sydney he indicated that he may make up his mind next summer ahead of the next presidential election in October 2018.

Earlier on his Australia trip, his said that his decision would be known by September 2018. Mr Higgins said that he would postpone until “next summer, whenever” his decision on whether to seek another term in Áras an Uachtaráin and that he would focus on his work as president until then.

“What I am doing now is that I am concentrating on the job that I undertook to do and it is going very, very well,” he said after addressing a business lunch hosted by Enterprise Ireland at the Australian landmark.

The President during the 2011 presidential campaign that he would only serve a single term but he has since refused to rule the possibility that he might run for a second term.

At the Fianna Fáil Ardfheis last weekend, party leader Micheal Martin said that it was too early to discuss running a presidential candidate in the 2018 election out of respect for the office but if there was still uncertainty around Mr Higgins’ future he would re-examine the party’s position on the matter in early 2018.

On a visit to Perth in Western Australia last week, the President said that his own position on whether to seek a second term should not be seen as an obstacle to anybody else standing as a candidate next year.

“We are in a democracy and a republic after all,” he said. An Irish Times/Ipsos MRBI opinion poll published earlier this month found that 64 per cent of voters said that Mr Higgins should be returned unopposed to Áras an Uachtaráin for another seven years.