Belfast Telegraph

Independent Senator withdraws bid for Irish presidency

Gerard Craughwell said he was now reassured that the Irish people would get a choice at the polls.

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell will no longer be contesting the Presidential Election in the autumn.

Mr Craughwell released a statement on Monday morning withdrawing from the race, citing concerns that Ireland’s major parties were working together to deny the Irish public the opportunity to elect their next president.

Both Fianna Fail and Fianna Gael have both said they would not contest Michael D Higgins’ re-election.

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Fianna Fail and FIne Gael are not opposing a second term for Michael D Higgins (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I 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.

“To ensure that there would be a presidential election in 2018, I put myself forward as a potential candidate.

“In doing so I opened up what has been the first serious national conversation on the presidential nomination and election process,” he said.

As many potential candidates have indicated their intention to seek a nomination and mount a campaign, I am now satisfied that I have achieved the objective that I set out last August Gerard Craughwell

Sinn Fein have since announced that they too would contest the Presidential Election.

The selection process is still ongoing within the party and has a number of members currently in the running.

Since Mr Craughwell’s announcement in August, independent senators Joan Freeman and Padraig O Ceidigh, as well as artist Kevin Sharkey, have all expressed an interest in running for the office.

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A voter at a ballot box (Niall Carson/PA)

Mr Craughwell said he felt he had achieved what he set out to do, and has since withdrawn from the campaign.

“I welcomed the announcements last week that Sinn Fein is putting forward a candidate and that Fianna Fail councillors will be free to nominate independent candidates for the presidential election.

“As many potential candidates have  indicated their intention to seek a nomination and mount a campaign, I am now satisfied that I have achieved the objective that I set out last August.

“I will now stand aside and take no further part in the process other than to wish each and every candidate every success in their campaign.”

There is no set date for the election, however it must be held before November 10.

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