Fine Gael will back President Michael D Higgins for a second term as President, with the party having decided against running its own candidate.
President Higgins now has the backing of both the two largest parties in the Oireachtas - Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil - for a second term in office.
At a Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting this evening, TDs and Senators decided not to run their own candidate and to support the incumbent.
This evening's decision means Sinn Féin could be the only large party to run a candidate in any presidential election this October, with the party's Ard Comhairle set to make a decision on Saturday.
Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin's decisions to back President Higgins will also make it very difficult for Independent candidates to even get on the ballot.
Fine Gael TDs and Senators vote to support Michael D Higgins for a second term as president. Taoiseach Leo Varadkar says they may put party money behind the campaign pic.twitter.com/jNBjIBInuC
— Sean Defoe (@SeanDefoe) July 11, 2018
TDs, Senators and councillors from those two parties will not be allowed to facilitate any candidates.
That means those seeking to get the backing of the required 20 TDs or Senators or four local councils will have an uphill battle even to have the chance to challenge Michael D.