WITH Michael D Higgins’ term as President set to come to an end later this year, the potential candidates have been coming forward.
It is not known yet whether or not Mr Higgins will seek a second term. At his election in 2011, he said that he would not go for a second term when the time comes, but has become vaguer on the question recently.
Former Taoiseach and Fianna Fail leader Bertie Ahern is rumoured to be the favourite to take over, since refusing to rule himself out of the running.
Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell threw himself into the race late last year.
Senator Craughwell — who described the €249,014 salary of the President as “mind-boggling” — is confident he can get the 20 backers in Leinster House needed to put his name forward for the job.
He added: “I will go to every corner of the country, shake every hand and kiss every baby. Whatever it takes I will do and I will back away from nothing. I never entered an election yet that I didn’t set out to win.”
Now, a third candidate has thrown his hat into the ring.
Former GAA President and Fine Gael MEP Sean Kelly surprised people with his announcement that he will run for the keys to Aras an Uachtarain.
Kelly cited his background as a former GAA President as offering him a great opportunity to connect with people.
Asked by EuroParlRadio whether he’d run, Kelly said colleagues have been encouraging him to go forward and that it’s something he's considering if Higgins decides not to serve a second term.
The Fine Gael MEP was first elected to the European Parliament in June 2009 for Ireland South. Kelly was re-elected to this position for a second term in May 2014.
He sits on the Industry, Research and Energy Committee, the International Trade Committee and the Fisheries Committee. He is also a member of the European Parliament Delegations for relations with the United States, the countries of Southeast Asia and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and Iran.
Before entering the European Parliament, Kelly was elected President of the Gaelic Athletic Association in 2003, serving until 2006.
He oversaw the completion of the Croke Park re-development through the completion of Hill 16/Northern end and the building of Croke Park Jury’s Hotel.
One of the watershed events during my presidency was the successful conclusion of arrangements for the use of Croke Park stadium, by the Irish Rugby Football Union and the Football Association of Ireland while Lansdowne Road was being re-developed.
Rumours suggest that another Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness is thinking of putting herself forward as a candidate but has made no comments to support that as of yet.