Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has confirmed that Sinn Féin will be contesting the Presidential election later this year.
She said that Michael D. Higgins is a ‘President we can be proud of’ and commended President Higgins and his wife Sabina on how they have represented Ireland since 2011.
However, she said, this election will be about the next seven years and the party wants to have a ‘progressive conversation about building a new, agreed and United Ireland’.
Michael D. Higgins won the 2011 Presidential Election after the late Martin McGuinness accused front-runner Sean Gallagher live on RTÉ of collecting a cheque for €5,000 from a ‘convicted criminal and fuel smuggler’.
Mr Gallagher denied the accusation at first during the debate, before remembering the incident later in the programme.
The Ard Chomhairle has appointed a committee to oversee the process of selecting a candidate.
Mary Lou McDonald TD said: “Ireland and the world have changed in the seven years since we last had a presidential election.
“A new generation has become politically engaged and have been central to changing Ireland for the better as we saw in the marriage equality referendum and in the referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment. In those referenda, young people voted in unprecedented numbers.
“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.
“These citizens should be given the opportunity to be part of deciding who our President is. 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.
“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.
“President Michael D Higgins sought and received a mandate to serve as our President for the past seven years. I want to commend President Higgins and his wife Sabina on how they have represented Ireland during the term of his presidency.
“He is a President we can be proud of.
“But this election will be about the next seven years, about who is best to lead our country into that future. An Uachtarán that can represent the future as well as our proud past.
“We are entering this race because we want to bring our vision for the future of all of Ireland to the people. We will seek during the campaign to have a progressive conversation about building a new, agreed and United Ireland. And we will ask the people to endorse that vision for the future.”