Ireland: Higgins declared Irish president

Ireland’s ninth president will be Labour’s Michael D Higgins after the first official count gave the veteran politician 40% of the vote.

The resounding victory - 701,101 votes out of 1.77 million - was secured with a tidal wave of eleventh hour support for the 70-year-old from Galway after controversy over his biggest rival’s political fundraising past.

Mr Higgins, a former government minister, came from 15 points behind in the opinion polls last weekend to steal the landslide success, with all other candidates conceding defeat.

Amid hectic scenes at the National Count Centre in Dublin Castle, president-elect Mr Higgins said his term in office would be about inclusion, ideas and transformation.

“I feel a little overwhelmed,” he said.

“I’m very, very happy. It is something I prepared for, something I thought about for a long while.

“I am very glad as well that it is a presidency built on a campaign that emphasised ideas. I hope it will be a presidency that will enable everybody to be part of and proud of.”

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Mr Higgins paid tribute to the other candidates, and said many of their ideas would be incorporated into his presidency.

While his campaign was born out of an ethos of the left, he said he would serve as a president for all of the people whether they voted for him or not.

“I’m really looking forward to it, I think it will be exciting and wonderful,” he said.