President urged to clarify if he plans to seek second term

President Michael D Higgins should not “leave the country hanging” on whether he will seek a second term in office, a potential contender to replace him has said.

Sean Kelly MEP

Ireland South MEP and former GAA president Sean Kelly said he would like to see clarity on the issue by early summer, despite insisting he and others should not contest a race if Mr Higgins opts for a second term.

Speaking to the Irish Examiner just days after he said he wants to be considered as the Fine Gael candidate if a race does take place, Mr Kelly said it is important Mr Higgins is given “the time and space to thoroughly” decide on his future.

However, with a number of other potential contenders confirming an interest in running, Mr Kelly said the decision needs to be made sooner rather than later.

“The party and myself do not want to do anything at the moment, we want to give the President the time and space.

“I think he has indicated before that he will make a decision by late summer, but I would like to see that a bit sooner, by early summer, because I don’t think he should leave the country hanging forever,” he said.

When asked if he believes a presidential election race is inevitable, he said “it’s up in the air”.

“In my mind, if Michael D Higgins decides he wants to run again then he shouldn’t be challenged, he’s a great president for Ireland.”

In recent weeks, Mr Kelly, fellow Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness, Fianna Fáil senator Mark Daly and Independent senator Gerard Craughwell have expressed an interest in running as president this November.

However, it is understood no party will force a contest if Mr Higgins seeks a second term in office.

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