President Michael D Higgins has not ruled out running for a second term in office, despite claiming after his 2011 election that he would be a one-term candidate.
Mr Higgins, a former Labour Party minister and long-standing TD, said he would make a decision “in the fullness of time”, leaving open the possibility of a U-turn on his initial plans.
Speaking at an event in San Francisco’s Silicon Valley during an eight-day visit to the west coast of the US, Mr Higgins said he had yet to made any firm decision on a second term. He will be 77 at the time of the next presidential election in 2018.
Despite saying he would only serve one term on the night of his landslide election on October 29, 2011, Mr Higgins yesterday said it is premature to rule out a second term.
Mr Higgins, who was a Galway West TD for three decades, has overseen a series of historic events since being elected to replace president Mary McAleese with more than 1m votes in 2011.
However, he has at times been criticised for making thinly veiled political comments, an issue any president is meant to avoid as they represent the State instead of political groups.
Mr Higgins continues his US trip by meeting emergency personnel who came to the aid of Irish students after the balcony tragedy in Berkeley, California, during the summer. He will plant a memorial tree in honour of those who died.
Meanwhile, broadcaster George Hook has revealed he is planning to run in the general election as an Independent candidate.
The 74-year-old said he wants to compete in the already crowded Dun Laoghaire constituency as the “Michael Collins Fine Gael” candidate and, “like my hero Winston Churchill”, would provide “blood, toil, tears, and sweat”.
The four-seat constituency is effectively a three-seater as Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett will be automatically returned.
It is expected at least one seat will go to Fine Gael’s duo of TD Mary Mitchell O’Connor and councillor Maria Bailey; at least one to Fianna Fáil’s running mates, councillors Cormac Devlin and Mary Hanafin; with People before Profit TD Richard Boyd Barrett also in strong contention.
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