| 12.2°C Dublin

Higgins pulling ahead of pack in opinion poll joy

LABOUR'S Michael D Higgins continues to lead the pack in the presidential race as campaigning enters its second week.

The latest opinion poll puts Mr Higgins seven points ahead of his nearest rival, Independent Senator David Norris.

The Quantum Research opinion poll published at the weekend shows the former Galway West TD on 27pc.

Mr Norris is in second place on 20pc, while Independent candidate Sean Gallagher has moved up to third place on 13pc.

Of the 500 people surveyed, 12pc said they would vote for Mary Davis, 11pc for Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness, while only 10pc said they would give Fine Gael's Gay Mitchell their number first preference.

Independent Dana was trailing on 7pc in the poll.

Another factor in Mr Higgins' favour is that supporters of other candidates are saying they would give him their second preference votes.

Over the weekend, Mr Higgins opened an architectural festival and attended an art exhibition and sale in Galway, with the money raised going to his campaign.

Experience

The 70-year-old also visited Limerick, reading poems from his recent collection in the White House pub. He has consistently led opinion polls, with his long experience as a TD going down well with the public.

Outlining his vision for the presidency, Mr Higgins said he would strive for inclusive citizenship, a creative society and building a "real republic".

"There is a huge response in this country for a decision on the kind of people we want to be, the Irishness we want to create, an Irishness that people speak of in those places where they are still struggling for freedom," he said.

"I am an advocate for those who are vulnerable. It is a sign of political sophistication when you give the same centrality to vulnerability of your people as you do to their success," he added.

Mr Higgins said his ministerial experience during the 1990s would be an advantage when it came to the Constitutional role of the presidency.