Mairead 'happy with role's powers'
THE only declared candidate for the Fine Gael presidential nomination last night said she was happy with the powers of the position, amid speculation one of her main party rivals is seeking to beef up the role.
Leinster MEP Mairead McGuinness is so far the only person in Fine Gael to declare an interest in running for the Aras, although it is widely speculated that former Taoiseach John Bruton and Munster MEP Sean Kelly are also interested.
It was suggested Mr Bruton was willing to run for FG if Taoiseach Enda Kenny increased the powers of the president, but Ms McGuinness rubbished the idea in a speech in Meath last night.
The former journalist and presenter of 'Ear to the Ground' said the recent visits by Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama allowed the Irish presidency, held by Mary McAleese, to come into its own.
"There is no doubt but the work of Mary Robinson and the powerful presidency of Mary McAleese have transformed the office and made it a part of public life in Ireland of which we are all immensely proud," Ms McGuinness said.
She added that the constitution affords the president "a unique role within which it is entirely possible to give leadership without the need for new powers".
Mr Kenny yesterday said there had been a number of "expressions of interest" but FG had yet to decide a process to select its candidate.