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Irish presidential election to be a two horse race

Only Fine Gael and Labour candidates remaining in presidential campaign as popular independent quits race and Fianna Fáil decides not to run a candidate.

Only Fine Gael and Labour candidates remaining in presidential campaign as popular independent quits race and Fianna Fáil decides not to run a candidate.

The Irish presidential election will be held on October 27th, together with two referendums on new powers to parliamentary committees and a reduction in judges’ pay.

Irish voters will make the choice between presidential candidates Gay Mitchell, a Fine Gael MEP and former TD, and Michael Higgins, the current president of the Labour Party and former Minister and TD.

Popular independent candidate Senator David Norris withdrew from the presidential race after revelations that he sought clemency from an Israeli court for his ex-partner, who was convicted of having sex with a minor in 1997.

According to polls, Senator Norris, a prominent member of the Church of Ireland and the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in Ireland, was the favourite candidate to win the Irish Presidency.

Although Fianna Fáil decided not to run a candidate, there was press speculation that veteran broadcaster Gay Byrne would seek presidential nomination with the support of the party. Mr Byrne eventually announced that he will not be a candidate for the Presidency.

The President of Ireland is the head of state of the Republic and, although it is largely a ceremonial office, it can exercise a number of limited powers with absolute discretion. The current president is Mary McAleese, who took office on 11 November 1997.

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