The party has pledge to support the president if he decides to stand for a second term

Fianna Fáil will not field a candidate to stand against President Michael D Higgins in any upcoming election.

The party has confirmed it will support the former Labour Party candidate should he decide to seek a second term in office.

President Higgins will complete his seven-year term this autumn and he has yet to indicate whether he will stand again.

Speaking this afternoon, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the 77-year-old has “served the country with great distinction over the course of his first term both at home and around the world.”

“He enjoys widespread support across the country and has demonstrated his understanding and connection with communities across a broad range of issues in recent years.

"His national leadership during our celebration of the centenary of the Easter Rising set the absolutely correct tone and as we approach a series of centenaries of potentially more divisive events in our shared history, his experience and leadership will serve the country well.”

Deputy Martin took the decision following a meeting with members of the Fianna Fáil front bench and Parliamentary Party this afternoon.

A number of potential candidates for the presidency have been floated in recent months – however President Higgins’ popularity will make it a daunting task to stand against him.

The Fianna Fáil decision increases the chances of there now being no presidential election in October - with President Higgins returned to office unopposed.