Tuesday 17 October 2017

McGuinness for President? He refuses to rule it out

Liam Clarke

Speculation is growing that Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness or fellow Stormont MLA Michelle Gildernew will join the presidential race.

The party's incoming Ard Comhairle will decide whether to field a candidate next Friday.

Gerry Adams gave his personal support for the idea in his leader's address to the Sinn Fein ard fheis at the weekend and 91pc of delegates polled by the Belfast Telegraph were also in support.

Several said that they favoured Mr McGuinness and Paddy Powers bookmakers have been accepting bets on him winning the office at 25/1.

Mr McGuinness wants Sinn Fein to field a candidate but refused to be drawn on his own chances.

"I don't know what the party is going to decide," he said, adding: "I hadn't even considered the prospect of that, and I don't even know where the bookies got my name, but we will see what happens over the next short while."

If he did stand he could keep his positions as deputy First Minister, MP and MLA - but would have to resign if he won.

Provided the DUP agreed, Sinn Fein could nominate a replacement at Stormont but a by-election would be likely for his Mid Ulster Westminster seat.

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