Bloc of Kerry County Councillors indicate they would help facilitate presidential election

Kerry County Councillors, who’re not members of the main political parties, have indicated they would consider giving their support to potential candidates to allow them contest the presidency.

On Tuesday, President Michael D Higgins confirmed he would seek a second term.

A presidential election will take place in October if other candidates receive the backing of 20 or more Oireachtas members or at least four local authorities.

The Fine Gael parliamentary party met last night and decided to back a second term for President Higgins, instead of fielding its own candidate.

The national committee will officially confirm the party’s position next week, but Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says party members will be expected to support Michael D Higgins, and they may produce leaflets and posters for him.

Fianna Fáil and Labour have declared their support for President Higgins serving a second term.

Sinn Féin will decide on Saturday whether it will put forward a candidate to contest the Presidency.

Thirty-three councillors serve on Kerry County Council – 26 of these are members of  Fianna Fáil,  Fine Gael,  Sinn Féin and Labour.

The remaining seven consist of six independent councillors and Michael Gleeson of the Kerry Independent Alliance.

Radio Kerry News contacted these seven to ask if they would support the nomination of a rival candidate to President Higgins.

A presidential candidate must receive the backing of 20 or more Oireachtas members or at least four local authorities

All seven said they would consider supporting a candidate to allow him or her get on the ballot paper so that there would be an election.

Only Cllr Donal Grady said he’s been lobbied by a potential candidate – in this case, Senator Gerard Craughwell. Cllr Grady said he’d support Senator Craughwell.

Although independents and Cllr Gleeson represent a minority, if councillors from the main parties abstained from a vote on backing a presidential candidate, this would allow Kerry County Council to give its support to the election hopeful.

One of the independents, Johnny Healy-Rae, also made the point that helping someone get on the ballot did not necessarily mean that he would vote for that candidate.