Higgins Sworn In As Ninth President Of Ireland

Michael D. Higgins has become the 9th president of Ireland after winning over 1,007,104 votes out of the total 1,771,762 votes cast in the country where the voter turnout was over 55%.

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny congratulated and praised Labour candidate Higgins as the best choice for president and “personality” over the next seven years.

The winner of international peace prizes and a champion of peace abroad, Higgins was also responsible for the rise of Ireland’s modern film industry. He also established TG4, set up numerous centres of culture and supported sports and theatres around the country.

Higgins will be inaugurated into his office on the 11th of November and will only serve one term in office, a revelation he made earlier in his campaign.

The six defeated candidates have heaped praise on the 70 year old. His nearest challenger Sean Gallagher said the campaign had been very challenging at times. But he said Michael D Higgins had run his campaign with dignity and decorum. He said Higgins will be an outstanding President.

Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness said it was a honour to stand and described it as the “experience of a lifetime”. He was very proud that 250,000 people voted for him.

He said Mr Higgins has “great intellectual capacity” and a “huge heart” and would make a very fine President. He urged the new President to continue the work of the President and Martin McAleese in building bridges in the North.

David Norris said Mr Higgins would be a great President. He described him as a poet, visionary, academic and scholar who was passionately committed to justice and human rights.

Mr Norris said the President-elect was the only “political millionaire” in the country because he had got over a million votes.

Dana Rosemary Scallon said it had been a great honour to be part of the election campaign and was pleased to be standing at the end of it. She wished Mr Higgins well in his work over the next seven years for the good of the country.

All of the defeated candidates thanked their families and supporters for their efforts, and recorded their appreciation for the work of the Presidential Returning Officer, Ríona Ní Fhlanghaile.

A spokesperson for Mary Davis said that she congratulated Michael D Higgins yesterday and spent today with her family. Gay Mitchell has also thanked Higgins privately.


Mitchell questions poll results

Gay Mitchell has again rejected the findings of recent polls claiming that the large fluctuations between results make the results “unbelievable”.

The Fine Gael candidate first made the claims in the wake of a recent Red C poll that saw his support drop to 8% and reiterated his scepticism while canvassing today in Cork City.

“I’m not 20 points behind anybody. If you look at those polls, they are absolutely without precedent, swinging 18 to 19 per cent at one time. In the last general election 40 per cent of people decided in the last week how they were going to vote and it’s even more in the presidential election.”

Mr Mitchell was supported in his assertion by the Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, who argued that the poll results were not reflected in their dealings with the electorate.

“I don’t believe these polls at all from the evidence that I have from the days I’ve been on this campaign with Gay Mitchell and his wife, Norma. The people now understand what they want in the presidency of Ireland given its place in our constitution. Gay Mitchell has set out his stall and has been elected by the people in Dublin at local, national and international level for 30 years and has shown leadership in that.”

The candidate and his party leader have been canvassing hard in the last couple of days, even venturing into an Ann Summers lingerie shop in a desperate bid to drum up support.

The leader also played down claims that they had entered into an agreement with the Labour Party to counter the growing popularity of independent candidate, Sean Gallagher.

“My interest is in Gay Mitchell. I will talk to the Tánaiste and leader of the Labour Party about arrangements for the presidency but our campaign is about Gay Mitchell who has gone about the country and put out his credentials, his experience and his qualifications for the job.”

Mitchell criticised over Commonwealth comments

Gay Mitchell is once again under fire following comments he made about the possibility of Ireland rejoining the British Commonwealth. Speaking during yesterday’s presidential debate on Today FM’s ‘The Last Word’, Mr Mitchell said he was open to such a possibility “if it was the price of a united Ireland”.

Unsurprisingly his view was coolly received by Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness who labelled Mitchell’s musings as “pathetic”. He added: “We’re a Republic, we’re very proud to be a Republic, and I don’t think we want to have our President be subservient to any king or queen from anywhere else in the world.”

Earlier, Independent candidate Mary Davis vioced her anger at Mr Mitchell’s seemingly dismissive comments made in relation to the Special Olympics.

This bout of criticism is the latest in a long line of negative press for the Fine Gael candidate whose campaign has hit a series of stumbling blocks in the last few weeks. Mr Mitchell is lagging behind in the polls at present and the public backing by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny has so far failed to boost his flagging campaign.

While canvassing in Galway recently, the pair were heckled by members of the Irish Turf Cutters and Contractors Association at Tuam Mart. Chants of “no turf, no votes” rang out, led by Independent TD Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan. The protest refers to planned EU access restrictions to bogs countrywide.

Association chairman Michael Fitzmaurice insisted that Gaeltacht Minister Jimmy Deenihan could no longer be trusted to deal with the issue of turf-cutting rights, maintaining he “went behind our backs” during negotiations.

Garda had to clear a path for Mr Kenny to move through the crowd.

Internal Rumblings See Mitchell Slipping Away

A Fine Gael TD has said the party are urgently trying to “save face” after a second opinion poll in as many days showed their candidate Gay Mitchell’s bid lies in tatters. 

Mitchell’s popularity has slumped dramatically after appearances on the Late Late Show and on the TV3 debate. The Dublin native is now ranked second last in the running to be the next president. 

Internal rumblings are heightening divisions within the party with rumours surfacing that not all Fine Gael TDs and senators were canvassing for Mitchell. It has been claimed that a group of TDs, some of whom tried to oust Enda Kenny as leader, are refusing to back the nomination in an attempt to “embarrass” the Taoiseach. 

Mitchell was chosen as the party’s candidate ahead of Mairead McGuinness and Pat Cox, but many believe he is out of his depth.

It is accepted as inevitable that Kenny will be damaged politically if Mitchell finishes behind Martin McGuinness, David Norris and Dana Rosemary Scallon in the polls

McGuinness claimed yesterday that the poll showed that Mitchell’s attacks on his IRA past had backfired.

The Sinn Fein candidate retains his position in third place but his chances will be affected by poor transfer prospects from other candidates.

Mitchell rejected the idea that his negative campaign against McGuinness had backfired or that he didn’t have the support of the party.




Higgins Tops Latest Opinion Poll

Labour candidate Michael D Higgins has topped an Ipsos MRBI presidential opinion poll published in today’s Irish Times with 23% of the vote – an unsurprising result following Tuesday’s televised debate on TV3. Seán Gallagher’s support rating has increased to second overall (20%) while Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness is close behind on 19%.

Mary Davis’s popularity remains unchanged since July at 12% while David Norris (11%) and Fine Gael’s Gay Mitchell (9%) both suffered major decreases in support, losing 14 and 12 points respectively. Dana Rosemary Scallon rounded out the poll on 6%.

A spokesperson for Michael D Higgins has said they are “very pleased” with the poll result. Meanwhile, Séan Gallagher feels his surge in support is reflective of the positive feedback he has been receiving from the public on the campaign trail.

When questioned, Mr McGuinness described the poll as “a snapshot rather than a reflection of the true figures” but admitted to being pleased with his high ranking. Ms Davis commented on the “huge volatility” highlighted by the poll while Ms Scallon insisted she paid little attention to such surveys.

Mr Mitchell admitted he was disappointed with the results but said he was confident his standing would improve “with the full support of the Fine Gael party and its 30,000 members”. However, such support may not be as forthcoming as he would have hoped as he is the number one preference for just 21% of the party’s members, with many favouring Labour’s Mr Higgins. As a result of this, Taoiseach and Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny has urged the party to get behind their candidate.

Mr Mitchell added, “Even though we are trailing, nobody has yet won this election. It is all to play for and I am more determined than ever. Opinion polls are interesting, but the real poll will happen on 27 October.”

Mr Norris has so far not commented on the survey.

The poll was carried out earlier this week among 1,000 voters aged 18 and over in all 43 constituencies. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 per cent.

Taoiseach Backs Mitchell Bid

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said that Fine Gael councillors will be abstaining from any votes on nominating independent presidential candidates.

The decision represents a significant boost for the campaigns of Senator David Norris and Dana Rosemary Scallon – as the councillors will not be voting against them.

A number of local authorities are to meet in the coming days to decide if they will facilitate either of their entries into the Áras race.

Meanwhile David Norris is now just three names short of the 20 Oireachtas members needed to secure a formal nomination to contest for the presidency.

The Taoiseach – who was speaking at the National Ploughing Championships – said Fine Gael councillors will not be supporting any candidate other than Gay Mitchell.

“The Fine Gael party has made its selection,” he said.

“We are not supporting any other candidate. We support Gay Mitchell and all our efforts will go towards electing him.

“Fine Gael councillors from around the country will not receive any further instruction from me. They have abstained on all of these (votes) so far,” he added.

“We are not supporting any candidate other than our own.”