Gay independent senator David Norris in in the lead for the Irish presidency, a poll of the public says.

According to an Ipsos MRBI/Irish Times poll of 1,000 people, Mr Norris has 25 per cent of the vote.

Fine Gael candidate Gay Mitchell was on 21 per cent and Labour’s Michael D Higgins was on 18 per cent.

Twenty-eight per cent said they had not yet decided who to vote for.

Although Mr Norris appears popular with the public, he has several hurdles to clear before he can declare himself an official candidate in this year’s election.

The Herald reports that he must gain the support of four city or county councils or 20 Oireachtas members.

Mr Norris announced his bid in March.

When asked by reporters if Ireland is ready for an openly gay president, he replied: “I don’t see myself as a gay president, I see myself as a president who happens to be gay.”

He added: “I think the Irish people are a little bit bored with my sexuality”.

If he is successful, Mr Norris will be the first openly gay head of state. Johanna Sigurdardottir, Iceland’s prime minister, became the world’s first openly gay head of government in 2009.