Gerry Adams won't stand for Sinn Fein in next poll for Irish presidency
Sinn Fein is to contest the next Irish presidential election, but Gerry Adams will not be their candidate, according to party leader Mary Lou McDonald.
President Michael D Higgins has not confirmed whether he intends to seek a second term in office, but it is understood he is considering standing again.
Speaking to The Irish Times, the Sinn Fein leader said she believed that there should be a contest, but insisted they would not be fielding her predecessor.
Ms McDonald said that it was "a matter of principle" that there should be an election.
"I don't favour this idea that somebody just moves from one term of office into another automatically, I think it's healthier to have the debate," she said.
"Not least because the campaigns like that allow for broader political debates than we have in general election campaigns. So as a matter of principle, I think there ought to be an election."
While expressing her admiration for Mr Higgins, Ms McDonald said the party had identified candidates for the role, but it must adopt an official position first.
Asked who it may put forward, the Sinn Fein leader said the party has " loads of candidates", but stressed her predecessor will not be one of them.
A number of politicians have already said they will challenge Mr Higgins, who, as the incumbent, can nominate himself for a second term.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has said he will wait until the president outlines his position before deciding if his party will stand a candidate.
However, observers have said that it will be extremely difficult for Fianna Fail not to participate if Sinn Fein decide to enter the race.
Mr Higgins has previously said he would make his intentions clear by September, with a presidential election due to take place by November at the latest. However, it was reported earlier this year he will confirm his position by July.