Presidential candidate on agenda for Sinn Féin ard comhairle
Views differ on whether SF should support Michael D Higgins or field own candidate
Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald: holds view there should be a presidential contest and has indicated she has identified potential candidates. Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA
Sinn Féin is to consider fielding a candidate in the presidential election at a meeting of its ard comhairle this month.
The party’s ardfheis passed a motion in June calling on the leadership to consider participating in the election, which is scheduled for October.
However, there are differing views on whether Sinn Féin should support President Michael D Higgins or field its own candidate.
Party sources said there were many who believed Sinn Féin should “row in behind Michael D” and avoid the cost of an election.
While others believe it could be a great opportunity to participate in an election and have a debate on the future of the State.
Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin, who is standing aside as a TD at the next general election, has been named as a potential candidate for the party. Former party leader Gerry Adams has insisted he will not participate in any future elections.
Speaking earlier this year, party leader Mary Lou McDonald said it was her view that there should be a contest.
As a matter of principle, Ms McDonald believed there should be presidential elections and indicated she had identified a number of potential candidates.
Blasphemy and women
The Government has set aside a date of October 26th for a possible presidential election, alongside two referendums on the issue of blasphemy and the woman’s place in a home.
Mr Higgins has not confirmed his intentions but it is widely expected he will seek a second term in office. He has made that position known to several figures within Government and Leinster House.
The President has confirmed he will outline his intentions in early July and it is understood that is likely to occur next week.
Fianna Fáil confirmed this week it will support the President if he decides to run for a second term.
The only confirmed challenger is Senator Gerard Craughwell, who believes he can secure 20 nominations from Oireachtas members to get his name on the ballot paper.
Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Craughwell claimed his chances had been improved by the Fianna Fáil decision.
However asked if he would continue in the election if the contest consisted of him and the current president, Mr Craughwell said: “As of now, I do not see any reason why I would back down. I would still take him on. I have nothing to fear from Michael D.”