Wednesday 19 December 2018

Son of murdered solicitor emerges as latest possible presidential candidate

John Finucane pictured at the Sinn Féin North Belfast Selection Convention at the Lansdowne Hotel
John Finucane pictured at the Sinn Féin North Belfast Selection Convention at the Lansdowne Hotel
Aras an Uachtarain

Shona Murray

John Finucane, the son of murdered solicitor Pat Finucane, is the latest name to emerge as a possible candidate for the Irish presidency.

According to Sinn Féin sources, he is now one of the favourites within the party to seek their candidacy.

Mr Finucane is a solicitor with his own firm and the brother of civil rights lawyer, Michael Finucane. He is 38 years old and a former Antrim goalkeeper.

His father Pat was 38 when he was shot dead by masked loyalist paramilitaries in front of his wife Geraldine and their three children at their Belfast home in February 1989.

"It’d be great if he would be up for it; but I think the nature of the race might turn him off," said one Sinn Fein source.

"I’d back him if he agrees to run," another senior party member told Independent.ie.

“He’d be a great candidate," they added.

He came within 2000 votes of winning the North Belfast seat from DUP stalwart Nigel Dodds during the UK election last year.

If elected, he would have become the first nationalist MP for North Belfast. He added 6,000 votes to Gerry Kelly's total from 2015 and  increased the party's share by eight pc.

“He had to attract support from the SDLP and protestants in order for him to have gotten that number of votes," said a party member, who is also supporting Mr Finucane.

Sinn Féin announced it is to contest the Presidential election, following a meeting of the party's Ard Comhairle on Saturday.

A committee has now been put in place to field candidates, chaired by Waterford TD David Cullinane.

Dublin MEP Lynn Boylan ruled herself out of the race yesterday but said she gave it "serious thought" after many members had called upon her to run.

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.

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