McGuinness move for 'new Ireland'
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness' shock bid to become Irish President will give citizens the opportunity to make a stand for the new Ireland, he said.
The Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, a former IRA leader who became a champion of the peace process, will be formally endorsed by his party leadership over the weekend.
The decision, which has stunned Irish politics, is already being billed as the republican movement's most audacious political move since IRA prisoner Bobby Sands was elected an MP while on prison hunger strike in 1981.
Mr McGuinness said: "I hope that my campaign will give citizens the opportunity to make a stand for the new Ireland."
Speaking from the US he said he believed that those who had voted for his election in the North would be pleased with his decision. "They will be very happy that I, as an Irish republican from the North, will be prepared to stand for the Irish presidency," he said.
"The whole all-Ireland nature of the agreements that we have made make it incumbent upon all of us to continue to bring about - I hope - the reunification of Ireland by purely peaceful and democratic means."
It is understood party strategists believe that taking part in the campaign ahead of the October polling day will help raise the profile of Sinn Fein, regardless of the result, at a time when it wants to build on its gains south of the Irish border.
But party leader Gerry Adams said Sinn Fein wanted to provide a real choice in the election for the Irish Republic's head of state and believed Mr McGuinness could be "the people's president".
Mr Adams said: "I believe that this election will give Martin the platform to continue the work which he has led in the North and in the peace process and to put it on a national footing. I believe he can be the people's president.
"If elected he will draw the average industrial wage. He will dedicate himself to a genuine national reconciliation and the unity of our people. He will personify hope in the great genius and integrity of all the people of this island - Catholics, Protestants and dissenters."