Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's John Finucane could run for Irish presidency - Bookie suspends betting after deluge of punts from Belfast

By Shona Murray

John Finucane, the son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, is the latest name to emerge as a possible candidate for the Irish presidency.

According to Sinn Fein sources, he is now one of the favourites within the party to seek their candidacy.

Mr Finucane is a solicitor with his own firm and the brother of civil rights lawyer, Michael Finucane. He is 38 years old and a former Antrim GAA goalkeeper.

His father Pat was 38 when he was shot dead by masked loyalist paramilitaries in front of his wife Geraldine and their three children at their Belfast home in February 1989.

"It’d be great if he would be up for it; but I think the nature of the race might turn him off," said one Sinn Fein source.

"I’d back him if he agrees to run," another senior party member told Independent.ie.

“He’d be a great candidate," they added.

Bookmakers Paddy Power said they suspended betting on the Sinn Fein presidential candidate process following a  "deluge of bets" Mr Finucane and coming from Belfast.

He came within 2,000 votes of winning the North Belfast Westminster seat from DUP stalwart Nigel Dodds during the General Election last year.

If elected, he would have become the first nationalist MP for North Belfast. He added 6,000 votes to Gerry Kelly's total from 2015 and  increased the party's share by 8%.

“He had to attract support from the SDLP and protestants in order for him to have gotten that number of votes," said a party member, who is also supporting Mr Finucane.

Sinn Fein announced it is to contest the Presidential election, following a meeting of the party's Ard Comhairle on Saturday.

A committee has now been put in place to field candidates, chaired by Waterford TD David Cullinane.

Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan ruled herself out of the race yesterday but said she gave it "serious thought" after many members had called upon her to run.

However, her Brussels colleague Liadh Ní Riada, who is the Sinn Fein MEP for Ireland South, has not done so yet.

Ms Ní Riada is a native Irish speaker, who served on the board tasked with setting up TG4. She has strong cultural links as the youngest daughter of Irish composer and musician Seán Ó Riada.

In a statement the party confirmed it would be contesting in the poll and a committee has been selected to oversee the process of selecting a candidate.

Irish Independent

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