Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell has said he will not be contesting the Presidential Election in the autumn.

In a statement, Mr Craughwell said last year he had become concerned that the main political parties were "working together to deny the citizens of this Republic the opportunity to select their next President by means of an election".

He said he had feared that members of the Oireachtas and city and county councillors would be prevented by the party whip from exercising their democratic right to nominate candidates and that the Presidency would simply be "rolled over" uncontested for another seven years.

Mr Craughwell said he put himself forward as a potential candidate to open up a "serious national conversation on the presidential nomination and election process".

He welcomed the announcements last week that Sinn Féin was putting forward a candidate and that Fianna Fáil councillors would be free to nominate independent candidates for the election.

Mr Craughwell added that he was "now satisfied that I have achieved the objective that I set out last August".

Speaking later on RTÉ’s News at One, Mr Craughwell said he was serious about running when he put himself forward and said today was a heavy and upsetting day for him and his family.

He said his main reason for not continuing with his bid for nominations was uncertainty over finances.

Mr Craughwell said he believed he would have had the support of four or more councils.

Michael D Higgins confirmed on 10 July that he would seek a second term as President.

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Following a meeting of its Ard Comhairle on 14 July, Sinn Féin announced it would contest the Presidential Election.

A committee has been put in place to oversee the selection of a candidate, chaired by Waterford TD David Cullinane.

Independent senators Joan Freeman and Pádraig Ó Céidigh, as well as artist Kevin Sharkey, have expressed an interest in running for the office.

Other potential candidates include businessman Gavin Duffy, former GAA president Liam O'Neill and barrister, columnist and former Fianna Fáil general election candidate Noel Whelan.

Candidates who decide to contest the election will need the backing of either 20 members of the Oireachas or four local authorities.

Former presidential candidate Sean Gallagher has written to county councils stating that his previous calls for councils to open up the nomination process for the presidency were not designed to benefit a prospective candidate.

He said such suggestions are incorrect and devoid of any basis in fact.

He said that councilors on 22 separate local authorities have been in touch with him to confirm that they will now be considering the Presidential election nomination process at their September meetings.

He also described today's announcement by Senator Gerard Craughwell not to seek a nomination as disappointing.

He said Mr Craughwell has done the State a great service by ensuring that a public debate takes place about the need for an election at this time.

This afternoon, Roscommon County Council agreed to hold a special meeting if approached by candidates seeking support to run for President. 

Cathaoirleach, Cllr Ivan Connaughton told the monthly meeting this afternoon that there have been expressions of interest but no official confirmation from any candidate seeking support. 

Cllr Tony Ward proposed that a special meeting be held if potential candidates come forward saying "while Michael D Higgins is a good president there should be a right to vote and a right to run". 

The motion to hold a special meeting was passed and Cathaoirleach Connaughton said anyone interested in looking for the councils' support should contact any councillor of submit their request in writing to the meetings administrator. 

Meanwhile, Donegal County Council has agreed to hold a special meeting if approached by candidates seeking support to run for President.