President Michael D Higgins is expected to make a statement outlining his campaign intentions when his nomination papers for the race for the park are submitted later this month.
His decision to hold off revealing whether or not he will publicly campaign to win a second seven-year term as president will leave presidential hopefuls in the dark as they battle it out to get on the ballot paper.
Senator Pádraig Ó Ceidigh announced yesterday he will not enter the race, warning it will be “a real dog fight” and that he thinks Mr Higgins will still be in Áras an Úachtarain after the October 26 vote.
Speaking to Newstalk radio, the Aer Arann founder explained why he would not challenge the incumbent.
“I’m not going to go. That was a really tough call for me. The main reason for that is quite frankly, I don’t think I’d win it. If I’m going to go I’m going to win,”
“Anything I ever do in life, I go to win. I’m very much an entrepreneur, I assess risk, the fact that the President Michael D Higgins is at 50% in the polls, everybody else is lower than 15%, which is broadly coming back to me.
“That’s a real dog fight, it would be really, really difficult,” he said.
“As things stand now, I think Michael D will be President next November when he meets Trump.
“Even if the President dropped 30%, he’s still going to get 550,000-600,000 first preferences. The other factor in it is that Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour are supporting Michael D Higgins, that’s from 65% of the voting population.”
The Galway politician said that running would be an expensive enterprise, also adding that Mr Higgins is known by every person in the country.
“Michael D does not have to put up posters, at €8, €10 or €12 each, everybody knows Michael D Higgins.”
Meanwhile, the Irish Examiner has learnt that President Higgins is to hold off on making any statement about his campaign or clarifying how he will go about seeking reelection while serving until later this month.
Nomination papers do not have to be lodged until September 26, by which time the president will have nominated himself for a second term, as per the rules.
Sources familiar with the president’s position have confirmed he will make a statement on the same day as those nomination paper are submitted to the Customs House in Dublin.
Elsewhere, Labour party staff and officials will also meet tomorrow and discuss how the party will campaign for Mr Higgins as well as what kind of resources will be put behind his campaign.
Potential candidates continue to seek the support of councils for a nomination. Joan Freeman, a senator, and the 2011 race runner-up Sean Gallagher both appealed to Roscommon County councillors yesterday, for one of the four council votes needed.
Businessman Gavin Duffy and Ms Freeman have been backed by Meath and Cork City councils respectively. Mr Duffy spoke to Louth councillors last night. Cork County will meet tomorrow, as will Clare, while Galway City will hear from candidates today. At least six council meetings are scheduled for Monday.