We knew from very early on yesterday morning that President Michael D Higgins would succeed in securing his second term as president of Ireland, but it was confirmed in the evening that he won by resounding numbers.
Higgins received 822,566 votes, 56 per cent of the total poll to secure another seven years in Áras an Uachtaráin. It is the highest vote ever in any of the eight presidential elections in the history of the State.
Independent candidate Peter Casey polled surprisingly well, taking 23 per cent of votes with 342,727 and coming in second place.
Businessman Seán Gallagher, who 29 per cent of voters backed in 2011, received just 6.5 per cent of votes.
Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada was fourth on 6.4 per cent, with Senator Joan Freeman on 6 per cent. The third of the Dragons’ Den panellists Gavin Duffy finished last on 2 per cent.
'The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want reflected at home and abroad' pic.twitter.com/ZwTySC5uSd
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) October 27, 2018
In a wide-ranging, impassioned victory speech, President Higgins spoke of his gratitude to the people of Ireland and his intention to continue serving them, along with his hope to lead "a real republic where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully and where every person and community is treated with dignity and respect."
The President also pledged to tackle the housing crisis, climate change, Brexit, trade, global hunger and the need to end “the scourge of violence against women" during his time in office.
— Orla O'Connor (@OrlaNWCI) October 27, 2018
"Words matter,” he said. "Words can heal. Words can empower. Words can divide. The words and ideas I have used in this campaign, reflect a vision for Ireland based on four strands. These strands are: “equal and together”; “strong sustainable communities”; “sharing history, shaping the future” and “Ireland’s voice matters”.
“A real republic is a life lived together. Words matters, they can hurt, heal, empower or divide. A real Republic is a Republic of Equality, or shared possibilities and capabilities” #PresidentMichaelDHiggins #aras18 pic.twitter.com/StxWet0Pxy
— Michael D Higgins (@MichaelDHiggins) October 27, 2018
The President spoke of opportunities "to do things in new ways" over the next seven years, and his hope to include everybody.
"Our people want to see security and shelter. Housing that can be a home as part of a healthy community."
"That requires identifying and facing exclusions and more than just eliminating barriers; it means the exercising of new invitations," he said.
"A real republic is a republic of equality, of shared vulnerabilities and of collective capacities."
"A real republic is one where every person is encouraged and supported to participate fully and where every person and community is treated with dignity and respect."
"A time of transformation"
"We are in a time of transformation and the presidency through its direct representation of, and direct conversations with the people of Ireland, is an independent space where new ideas and possibilities can emerge."
Turnout in the presidential referendum was just 44 per cent, making it one of the lowest since the office was introduced.
Voters also supported the proposal to remove the offence of blasphemy from the Constitution.
Results showed 65 per cent of voters were in favour, with 35 per cent against. A total of 951,650 people voted in favour of the proposal, with 515,808 voting against it.