Sinn Fein to run for Aras

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Sinn Fein is to challenge Michael D Higgins in the upcoming Irish presidential election but has yet to name a candidate for the vote, which is expected to take place in November.

Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said a candidate would be put forward following the announcement that President Higgins (pictured) would stand for re-election for a second term. She said the party would campaign with the aim of sparking conversation about “building a new, agreed and united Ireland”.

In 2011, the party ran the late Martin McGuinness as a candidate, winning 13.7 percent of the vote. Former Galway TD Michael D Higgins became the thirteen president to be elected to Aras an Uachtaran, with 39.6 percent.

Bookmakers believe Mr Higgins is certain to win reelection. Both Fianna Fail or Fine Gael have said they will not contest against the dimunitive Labour Party veteran, a decision which leaves the field open for Sinn Fein to gain maximum publicity.

Ms McDonald said: “Ireland and the world have changed in the seven years since we last had a presidential election. A new generation has become politically engaged and have 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.

“In those referenda, young people voted in unprecedented numbers. 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.”

Among the contenders to be the Sinn Fein candidate are Belfast lawyer John Finucane, Fermanagh-South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew, Cork-based MP Liadh Ni Riada and Dublin TD Eoin O Broin.

Ms McDonald said those under the age of twenty-five have never voted in a Presidential election.

“They shouldn’t have to wait until the age of thirty-two to have this opportunity,” she said.

“It is simply wrong that citizens be denied their right to vote because the political establishment of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, and Labour do not want an election.

“A presidential election can be a very positive thing for Ireland. We believe that there is an appetite for political and social change.”

She added: “We are entering this race because we want to bring our vision for the future of all of Ireland to the people. We will seek during the campaign to have a progressive conversation about building a new, agreed and United Ireland. And we will ask the people to endorse that vision for the future.”

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