Tuesday 11 December 2018

'I will not be Sinn Féin's candidate for Áras' - MEP Boylan

Liadh Ní Riada of Sinn Féin
Liadh Ní Riada of Sinn Féin

Shona Murray

Sinn Féin's Dublin MEP, Lynn Boylan, has ruled herself out of the race for the Áras as speculation mounts over who the party will choose to challenge Michael D Higgins.

Ms Boylan confirmed to the Irish Independent that she would not run for President.

However, her Brussels colleague Liadh Ní Riada, who is the Sinn Féin MEP for Ireland South, has not done so yet. Ms Ní Riada is a native Irish speaker, who served on the board tasked with setting up TG4. She has strong cultural links as the youngest daughter of Irish composer and musician Seán Ó Riada.

Sinn Féin may yet look for a candidate outside the political establishment. There is also strong speculation that it will select a woman to run.

Speaking at the weekend, the party's president Mary Lou McDonald pointed to the successful abortion referendum campaign as an example of a "changing Ireland".

Some Sinn Féin insiders believe a candidate from this network of activists could also suit the party's fit. Ailbhe Smyth, the long-time feminist and activist, is a name that has been mentioned by observers.

"A new generation has become politically engaged and 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," said Ms McDonald.

"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."

Meanwhile, former 'Dragons' Den' star and businessman Gavin Duffy is to launch his bid for the Áras within the next 10 days.

A spokesperson for his campaign said they believed they have the support of around nine councils. In order to enter the race, a candidate needs the backing of four councils.

An insider in Mr Duffy's camp said he had been giving the matter "serious consideration for some time". He said the team was well prepared for the campaign.

"Everybody will say to you it is a bear pit, a blood bath," they said, adding: "You are putting yourself up for the highest office and any candidate has to be fully tested.

"People don't want a President that would embarrass the country, they have to be fully tested.

"We won't play dirty with anyone else. For example, we won't be questioning President Higgins on his age or his decision to run twice - even though he said he only wanted one tenure."

Referendum

Meanwhile, Colm O'Gorman, the executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, and Rory O'Neill, aka Panti Bliss, have ruled themselves out.

However, Mr O'Neill said that while he did not want to run against President Higgins, he may run next time around.

"I wouldn't say never because I do think I'd be pretty good at the job. I think our current President is doing a great job."

Irish Independent

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