Friday 24 May 2019

McGuinness: My pay will be €35k, I’ll be people’s president

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness is announced as the party's candidate for the Irish Presidency at a press conference at the Irish Writers Museum in Dublin. Photo: PA
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams (right) arrive for a press conference at the Irish Writers Museum in Dublin, where it was announced that Mr McGuinness will be the party's candidate for the Irish Presidency. Photo: PA
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams (right) listens as Martin McGuinness
Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams (right) arrive for a press conference

Colm Kelpie, Press Association

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has claimed the Northern Ireland peace process will be strengthened by his involvement in the Irish presidential election.

After being formally endorsed by the party's leadership, the former IRA leader said the Northern Ireland Assembly would not be destabilised by his surprise move.

Outlining his vision for the presidency, Mr McGuinness vowed to only draw down the average wage if elected to office and donate the remainder to the Irish people.

Addressing the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle after his nomination, he pledged to be the “people’s president” and referred to his strong track record as a peacemaker.

"I have every confidence that the (Northern Ireland) institutions will not be destabilised, that the work will continue, that the peace process will remain secure," Mr McGuinness said.

"In fact I think it will be strengthened by the fact that I am now participating in this very important election."

Sinn Fein stunned Irish political circles on Friday by announcing that the former IRA leader, who has become a champion of the peace process, was to be its candidate.

At a press conference after his formal endorsement by the party, Mr McGuinness was asked to condemn the IRA murder of Detective Garda Jerry McCabe in Limerick in 1996.

The Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister described the killing as a terrible tragedy said the gardai would have his 100pc support if elected to office, but did not overtly condemn the killing.

He later clarified his position to say he "unreservedly condemned" it.

Mr McGuinness said he has a strong track record in peacemaking.

He is to pass on the Deputy First Minister role to John O'Dowd, party colleague and education minister in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

He said Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson reacted "philosophically" when he told him of his plans.

And he said that since he was announced as a candidate, he has received expressions of support from people who lost loved ones at the hands of IRA members.

Mr McGuinness also said three unionist politicians wished him well when he arrived back from a trade mission in the United States to Belfast yesterday.

"People know of my past and they also know of my deep commitment to peace and peace building," he said.

"I want to continue to reach out to those directly affected by the actions of republicans in the course of the conflict."

Mr McGuinness said if elected he will only draw the average wage, approximately €35,000, and donate the rest to the state.

Irish President Mary McAleese has capped her salary this year at €250,000.

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