Tánaiste more interested in running for Áras than leading FG

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald is considering contesting the presidential election next year, according to senior Fine Gael sources.

Ms Fitzgerald, who has been linked with the leadership of Fine Gael is, however, said to me more interested in a run for the Áras, but her bid will be determined by whether current President Michael D Higgins decides to run again.

Those close to her have said she is not “ruling it out” at the present.

“She wants a leadership role, but it is not the one most people link her with. The park is where it is at for her,” said one senior party figure to the Irish Examiner.

Mr Higgins, 75, on the day he was elected in 2011, said he would only be a one-term incumbent but there is a growing sense that he could consider a second term, should he not be opposed by anyone.

Ms Fitzgerald, who is 66-years-old, is said to feel in the absence of President Higgins, that she could stand a good chance of winning an election.

“She has a broad appeal outside of the party, probably more than she does within the party. As Tánaiste, she would easily get the support of the Government were Michael D not to run,” one senior minister said last night.

In response to queries from the Irish Examiner, a spokesman for Ms Fitzgerald said: “She is, at the moment, considering whether to contest the leadership contest of Fine Gael. But all the while, she is concentrating on the job at hand.”

First elected to the Dáil in 1992, she has been a TD and a senator before her appointment to Cabinet in March 2011 as the first children’s minister. She replaced Alan Shatter as justice minister following his controversial resignation in 2014.

Ms Fitzgerald has previously spoken of her desire to lead, telling the Sunday Independent in 2015: “I have always enjoyed leading when I had the opportunity to lead in a variety of roles and I think it is a real privilege to lead.”

The presidency is for a seven-year term meaning an election has to take place next year.

It is felt if President Higgins indicates a willingness to undertake a second term, then he would not be opposed, negating an election contest.


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