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Noel Whelan rules himself out of presidential race

Barrister and former Fianna Fáil advisor Noel Whelan has announced that he will not be contesting the position of President of Ireland.

Mr Whelan, who has a weekly column in the Irish Times had been linked with a run but ruled himself out of the race. “I'm out,” he said.

He said he did consider the matter over a number of weeks with a team but figured that given President Michael D Higgins' decision to stand meant it was unlikely to overcome him.

“If Michael D was not running, we would not have waited until now to form a campaign,” he said.

He said that he is very conscious that whoever does put themselves up for election will be met with 'who do they think they are?'.

Mr Whelan said in the case of President Higgins not running, those seeking election would be given an opportunity to put forward proposals in which to revision, re-purpose and to reimagine the presidency, which commands a salary of €250,000 a year. He was speaking to Miriam O'Callaghan on RTE Radio this morning.

He said presidential campaigns need not be a divisive and bitter as they have been in recent times and he said that a campaign doesn't have to be as expensive as it once was, citing social media as another way to reach out to the electorate, rather that spend on posters.

Mr Whelan also said it is most probable that President Higgins will be successful in being re-elected.