Sinn Féin gives strong indication it will run against Michael D Higgins in October
PRESIDENT Michael D Higgins seems certain to have to fight an election if he wants another seven years in Áras an Uachtaráin.
Sinn Féin chiefs are in the process of assessing potential candidate for an October ballot or whether to facilitate the nomination of an independent.
Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said no definitive decision has been taken – but added that there “ought” to be an election for the highest office in the country.
It is expected that Sinn Féin’s leadership will meet in Dublin on July 14 to formally plan their approach to the issue.
Mr Higgins has said he will outline his intentions at some stage this month but it is widely believed in government circles that he wants a second term.
Fianna Fáil and a number of Fine Gael and Independent ministers have already given him their backing.
Speaking today, Ms McDonald said she didn’t mean “any disrespect” to the incumbent but a presidential election would be more useful for the country in 2018 than a general election.
She said it would offer an opportunity for a debate on how the country should deal with the economic recovery.
Ms McDonald confirmed that a number of names are “in the mix” but said all options are still being weighed up.
Among those being tipped as potential Sinn Féin candidates are outgoing TD Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin and MEP Liadh Ní Riada.
Ms McDonald said if Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael do not believe the president should have “a democratic mandate, then I beg to differ with them”.