With a lead that appears insurmountable at this point, peace campaigner Michael Higgins is set to become Ireland's ninth president, upsetting his more fancied rivals Sean Gallagher and Martin McGuinness in the presidential election held Thursday.
After the first round of counting, Labour Party's Higgins secured 39.6 percent of votes while his closest rival Gallagher, who won two major opinion polls days before the general election, settled for just 28.5 percent of votes. McGuiness, a former leader of the Irish Republican Army had 13.7 percent after the first round.
A native of Limerick, Ireland, Higgins started his political career while he was still a student at the University College Galway. Higgins originally joined the Fiana Fail but switched to the Labour Party in the 1960s.
Higgins was a Labour Party nominee during the 1969 and the 1973 general elections but was unsuccessful in both instances. The 70-year-old veteran politician also served as Mayor of Gallaway twice and also Minister of Arts, Culture and Gaeltacht from 1993 to 1997.
Higgins was the recipient of the first-ever Sean McBride Peace Prize in recognition of his efforts against human rights violation and peace campaigns in many war-stricken parts of the world including Iraq, Chile, Somalia and Nicaragua.
As of this writing, Higgins' win isn't official as the second round of counting is still ongoing with Higgins leading by more than 200,000 votes against Gallagher. The final tally is expected to be released on Saturday.