Republic of Ireland news

Race for Irish Presidential nomination kicks off as election order is signed

Michael D Higgins at the opening of the National Library of Ireland earlier this year.

The race to be the next Irish President started in reality yesterday after an election order was signed, kick-starting a 28-day period during which hopeful candidates can campaign to secure a place on the ballot paper.

Incumbent Michael D Higgins, who has served as the ninth president of Ireland since 2011, confirmed in July that he wishes to stand again, with hopes of serving a second seven year term.

The 77-year-old, who as serving president automatically gets his name on the ballot paper, is being supported in his re-election campaign by Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Labour Party.

Sinn Féin, have decided to field a candidate against him saying they will announce a nominee after an internal contest.

That has been widely tipped as north Belfast member and practising solicitor John Finucane.

The son of murdered human rights lawyer Pat Finucane he played a prominent role in the party's Ard Fheis in June, however, would not be a well known figure in the south.

Paddy Power bookmakers currently has the former Antrim goalkeeper's odds of being president at 20/1.

The party's Munster MEP Liadh Ní Riada has also been tipped as a candidate, with a profile already in the south the bookies have her as 33/1 of being the next Irish president.

A number of independent senators, including Joan Freeman and Pádraig Ó Céidigh, have also declared that they will be seeking a nomination, as well as businessman Gavin Duffy - best known for his role on popular RTÉ programme Dragon's Den - and artist Kevin Sharkey.

Journalist Gemma O'Doherty also announced last week that she intended to put her name in the ring.

Seán Gallagher, also a former Dragon's Den investor who came runner up in the 2011 election, is expected to announce his candidacy later this week and is second favourite with the bookmaker at a 5/1.

In order to formally contest the election, candidates need the backing of either 20 members of the Oireachas or four local authorities. Nominations will close on September 10.

With a current salary of just under €250,000 per annum, reduced under the public pay cap legislation, the president resides at Áras an Uachtaráin, formerly the Viceregal Lodge, located off Chesterfield Avenue in Phoenix Park in Dublin.

The election on Friday, October 26, is expected to take place alongside two proposed referendums on the country's Constitution.

One to remove the offence of blasphemy and the second to change a constitutional clause that prioritises a woman's domestic role over work.

The winner of the election will be inaugurated on Sunday, November 11.

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