Higgins calls for hope over fear as he wins second term as Irish president
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Higgins calls for hope over fear as he wins second term as Irish president

MCHAEL D HIGGINS has won a second term as President of Ireland following a landslide victory.

Peter Casey, whose comments about Travellers during the campaign had caused controversy, finished in second place.

Higgins secured 822,566 votes (55.8 per cent), becoming the first president to win re-election since Eamon De Valera in 1966.

Patrick Hillery and Mary McAleese were unchallenged when they were re-elected in 1983 and 2004 respectively.

Casey secured 342,727 votes (23.3 per cent) in what Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described as a protest vote.

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Speaking after his victory, President Higgins said he would be a president ‘for all the people’, adding that the electorate had voted for an inclusive Ireland.

“This is a time to be active rather than passive and clear choices are opening up as to what will be the character of our Irishness,” he said.

President Higgins speaking after his re-election (Image: RollingNews.ie)

“Will it be a commitment to inclusion and a shared world or a retreat to the misery of an extreme individualism?

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“The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want reflected at home and abroad.

“It is the making of hope they wish to share rather than the experience of any exploitation of division or fear.

Respect

“The version of Ireland that can best represent our people at home and abroad is one which draws on traditional genius and contemporary creativity, deep connections and new solidarities, respect and transformation.

“The presidency belongs not to any one person but to the people of Ireland.

“I will be a president for all the people, for those who voted for me and those who did not.

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Peter Casey with Leo Varadkar at the election centre at Dublin Castle (Image: RollingNews.ie)

“Because I am so proud of our country, I am proud to be a president for all of you and with all of you, and I look forward with joy and hope to all that we will achieve together.”

Varadkar, whose Fine Gael party had endorsed Higgins, praised the victor but said the government must listen to those who voted differently.

“If you look at the vote, certainly there was an element there of anti-Traveller sentiment and that’s not something that I can condone, I just can’t,” he said.

“However there are people who are registering their protest for lots of other reasons.

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“When people register a protest, whether it’s on the streets or in the ballot box, you have to listen to that if you’re in politics.”

He added: “As politicians we always need to listen to people when they register a protest such as that.”

Sean Gallagher, who came second in the 2011 election, secured 94,514 votes (6.4 per cent) to finish third, just ahead of Sinn Féin’s Liadh Ní Riada on 93,987 (6.4 per cent).

Joan Freeman won 87,908 votes (6 per cent) while Gavin Duffy secured 32,198 votes (2.2 per cent).