herald

Wednesday 17 October 2018

Sinn Fein in no rush to select presidential candidate

Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane
Sinn Fein’s David Cullinane

Sinn Fein will select their candidate for the presidential election in September, allowing time for a campaign which is expected to last around six weeks.

The organisation, which is the only political party to opt to run a challenger against sitting president Michael D Higgins, outlined a lengthy selection process to decide their candidate.

The nomination process will open on August 20 and close on September 10 and a special meeting of the Ard Comhairle will then be held on September 16.

Each of the regional structures of the party can select up to two nominees - and if two nominees are to be put forward one must be a woman.

"Sinn Fein is in this campaign to win. We want this to be a discussion about what type of society, what type of country we want," said David Cullinane, who chaired the party's committee which set up the process.

The election is expected to be held in late October.

Scrutiny

Mr Cullinane said a six-week campaign was long enough for the party's candidate to make a difference in the election.

He rejected suggestions that the party was delaying the selection in order to avoid lengthy media scrutiny of the chosen candidate.

"We don't hide from anybody, we certainly don't hide from the media, we're here today announcing our process.

"We have to give our members an opportunity to nominate, which we will do, and it will be a fair process," he said.

When a candidate is selected, they will engage fully with the media, he added.

The party will allow councillors to facilitate additional candidates to enter the race by abstaining in local authority votes.

The party is largely expected to put forward a woman.

Names such as MEP Liadh Ni Riada have been mentioned, but Mr Cullinane said no one had been selected by leadership and said there was no gender intervention in who could be nominated.