A number of major parties say they won't stand against him

The President Michael D Higgins has confirmed that he will be putting himself forward for a second term as President.

In a statement, President Higgins said he will stand as an independent candidate when a new election is called later this year.

Speaking to reporters this evening, he said: "I'm not exactly stuck for something to do. But it is the best way I consider that I could spend the next seven years of my life.

"My health is excellent. If I felt I couldn't be doing this job with energy, and getting the responses I've been getting for the last six years, I wouldn't be doing it."

Both Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael have indicated that they will not field a candidate to stand against President Higgins.

The Labour Party, President Higgins’ former party, has also suggested it will not stand against him.

Sinn Féin, however, has given a strong indication that it will do so.

The party's Ard Chomhairle will meet on Saturday to decide whether it should enter a candidate to run against Michael D Higgins.

Leader Mary Lou McDonald said she it would be "unhealthy" for anyone to hold the post for 14 years - without the public getting another opportunity to have their say.

Artist Kevin Sharkey has already put his name forward for the role.

A number of other names - including he outgoing head of Barnardos, Fergus Finlay, former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern and broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan have already ruled themselves out of any upcoming race

However Senator Gerard Craughwell has repeatedly put his name forward – if enough members of the Oireachtas will support his bid.

This afternoon he voiced his anger at the timing of President Higgins’ announcement.

“I am deeply disappointed that the president has chosen to do exactly what he criticised his predecessor for in 2004,” he said.

“That is to announce in the last week of the Oireachtas that he is running.

“Effectively all of the people in here are going on holidays; there will be no writ for an election before the autumn and it makes for a very, very, very tight election schedule."

He previously suggested he had already secured the support of 17 members of the Oireachtas, meaning he would need three more to secure a nomination.

Meanwhile, Sean Gallagher - who came second behind Michael D Higgins in the 2011 election - has called on local authorities to use their 'constitutional right' to elect candidates.

He does not say he will be seeking a nomination, but encourages councils to make time in their schedules to choose a candidate.