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Michael D Higgins Re-Elected President of Ireland

posted Nov 1, 2018, 4:22 PM by Bernard O'Hara
On October 27, 2018, Michael D Higgins was declared elected as President of Ireland for a second term of seven years. All political parties, except Sinn Féin, supported the outgoing president, because they accepted that he was very successful during his first term and that they had little or no chance of defeating him. Sinn Féin stated that they nominated a candidate to ensure that there was an election rather than a coronation. Four other candidates entered the race as independents following nominations for each by four County/Urban Councils as provided for in the Irish Constitution. However, no challenger was able to articulate a clear and coherent vision for their aspirations in office within the limitations of the Constitution. The election resulted in an emphatic 55.8 % vote for the outgoing president, winning every one of the 40 constituencies, with majorities in every age group according to an exit opinion poll. The second best candidate received 23.3% of the poll. The turnout was 43.9% of the electorate, the lowest for a presidential election, perhaps because many regarded the result as a foregone conclusion. Two lessons were learned from the election: that it is very difficult for a candidate to mount a good challenge unless supported by independent means or a political party, and that it may be too easy to secure a nomination through the county/urban council route.
Many people are curious about the letter D in the president’s name. When he went to college there were three Michael Higgins in his class, which caused a lot of confusion. They met one day and one decided that he was not going to change his name; the second decided to use the Irish version of his name, Micheál Ó hUiginn, and the future president agreed to use the initial of his second Christian name, D (for Daniel), after the first name, hence Michael D. The problem was solved. Michael D Higgins has a long record of public service since he first appeared on the national political stage in 1969, serving as a senator, a Dáil deputy, as minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht from 1993 to 1997, and twice as Mayor of Galway in 1982/83 and 1990/91, prior to his election as President of Ireland in 2011. During his first term of office, he made the first State visit by an Irish President to the United Kingdom in April 2014.
President Higgins is a renowned and passionate social democrat, a trenchant critic of neoliberalism before and after the 2008 economic recession, a public intellectual, and a big supporter of engaged citizenship, as well as human and social rights. He always supported fairness, equality, solidarity and inclusion in society. In his acceptance speech he said: “he wants to build a Republic of equality, where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully in society, and where everyone is treated with dignity and respect”. One of the big challenges for his second term is the centenary commemorations of many sensitive events that took place in Irish history from 1919 to 1923. This was a huge factor in his re-election following the success of the 1916 commemorations. Looking forward to this challenge in his acceptance speech, he said: “this task will require sensitive thought, reflection, and understanding – an ethics of memory and a narrative of hospitality, enabling different visions of shared events to be placed side by side, uncomfortable truths acknowledged”. He will relish that challenge.
Note: Bernard O’Hara’s most recent book is Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting
Bernard O'Hara's latest book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at, or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from and (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press ( and is available from and It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from and (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from (Nook tablet and eReader).