Fianna Fáil has taken a decision that it will endorse President Michael D Higgins if, as expected, he seeks a second term.

The matter was discussed at a meeting of the parliamentary party in Leinster House this evening.

It is expected that President Higgins will tell Government next month that he intends to nominate himself for re-election for another seven years.

The decision increases the likelihood that there will not be a Presidential contest in October and President Higgins could be returned to office unopposed.

Party leader Micheál Martin confirmed tonight that his party would not be fielding a candidate to challenge President Higgins.

He said: "President Higgins 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."

Mr Higgins has been under pressure to announce if he was seeking a second term, with Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell, who has declared his interest in running, and Independent TD Michael Fitzmaurice calling on him to make his intentions known.

Last week, President Higgins said he had had a period of time to reflect on his decision and would inform the Government next month.