Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein will challenge Irish president in forthcoming election

Sinn Fein has announced it will challenge Michael D Higgins in the Irish presidential election later this year.

The party has announced it will appoint a presidential election committee to select a candidate.

Sinn Fein's president Mary Lou McDonald said: "It is right that we give this generation the opportunity to be part of a wider conversation about what a better Ireland should look like."

Earlier in the week, former Labour party TD and senator Mr Higgins announced he would seek a second seven-year term.

The Irish president, who said he only planned to remain in the position for one term when first elected, has enjoyed high popularity during his time in office.

His bid for a second term has been backed by Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour.

The move by Sinn Fein to run a candidate means it will only the second time in the history of the modern Irish state that an incumbent president has been challenged - with the norm being for presidents to be returned to office unopposed.

In her statement, Sinn Fein leader Mrs McDonald said citizens who have grown up over the past seven years should be given the chance to "be part of deciding who our President is".

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Michael D Higgins has confirmed he is seeking another term as President (Brian Lawless/PA)

"Those under the age of twenty-five have never voted in a Presidential election.  They shouldn’t have to wait until the age of thirty-two to have this opportunity," she said.

“It is simply wrong that citizens be denied their right to vote because the political establishment of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, and Labour do not want an election.

“A presidential election can be a very positive thing for Ireland.

“We believe that there is an appetite for political and social change."

She added she wanted to "commend President Higgins and his wife Sabina on how they have represented Ireland during the term of his presidency" and that he is "a president we can be proud of".

It is unclear who the party intends to put forward as a candidate, although it earlier ruled about running former leader Gerry Adams.

The late Martin McGuinness contested the 2011 presidential election for Sinn Fein, winning just under 14% of the vote. 

The presidential election is expected to take place in October of this year.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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