Michael D Higgins has said his second term as president will focus on Ireland being a republic of equality and building strong, sustainable communities and shaping the future.

Mr Higgins was elected yesterday for a second term as President of Ireland, with a total of 822,566 votes (55.8%).

The turnout of 1,492,338 voters represented 43.9% of the electorate, which was down 12.2% from the 2011 Presidential Election.

Independent candidate Peter Casey finished second on 342,727 votes.

He polled more than 23% of the vote nationally, some distance ahead of the other four candidates.

Businessman Seán Gallagher secured 94,514 votes (6.4%), Sinn Féin's Liadh Ní Ríada was third on 93,987 votes (6.3%), followed by Joan Freeman on 87,908 (6%) and Gavin Duffy 32,198 (2.2%).

In his acceptance speech, Mr Higgins said Ireland is at a time of transformation and the momentum of empathy, compassion, inclusion and solidarity must be recognised and celebrated.

He said the next seven years offers opportunities to do things in new ways including everybody, which requires identifying and facing exclusions.

Mr Higgins told the crowd at Dublin Castle yesterday that he would like to see the commemoration of the foundation of the country's democracy next year spark a debate about the values and the principles required in today's Ireland.

He said the presidency can bring together the different strands of our nation "past, present and future".

Mr Higgins said 2019 should be used to look at institutions and consider how they serve our values now.

Read more:
Still turning up - Michael D Higgins elected for second term
Full results, including constituency breakdowns
Presidential Election stories

Over the next seven years, Mr Higgins said he would represent Ireland's voice as it faces global challenges such as climate change and sustainability, the challenge of global hunger in a way that is sustainable, Brexit, trade, fragile multi-lateralism and the urgent need to "end the scourge of violence against women".

"I am so proud of our country, I'm proud to be a President for all of you and with all of you and I look forward with joy and hope for all that we will achieve together," he said.

He said: "The people have made a choice as to which version of Irishness they want reflected at home and abroad.

"It is the making of hope they wish to share rather than the experience of any exploitation of division or fear."

He said his version of Ireland is one which draws on traditional genius and contemporary creativity.

"The presidency belongs not to any one person but to the people of Ireland.

"I will be a president for all the people, for those who voted for me and those who did not."

Mr Higgins is the first president to be re-elected to serve a second term in office since Éamon de Valera in 1966.

Patrick Hillery and Mary McAleese were re-elected without a contest in 1983 and 2004.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said the Presidential Election was a historic victory and a very strong endorsement for Michael D Higgins.