Sinn Féin to enter presidential race (UTV)
Gerry Adams has said Sinn Féin should support a candidate to enter the race for the Irish Presidency, but did not reveal who the nominee would be during his leader’s speech at the party’s annual conference.
Mr Adams was addressing 2,000 delegates at a packed Waterfront Hall in Belfast on Saturday evening.
The party held its Ard Fheis in the city for the first time, and Mr Adams described this as “a big deal”.
“It is a big deal for Belfast republicans that the Ard Fheis is here, and I haven’t gone away you know so it’ s a big deal for me too”, he said.
“It’s a big deal for me as a Belfast man who was very humbled and proud to be elected by the people of Louth.”
Mr Adams secured a seat in the Dáil in the Irish general election last February after resigning from both Westminster and Stormont.
He said he will ask his party executive to meet next week to select a candidate for the Irish presidential election, amid growing speculation that former Stormont Agriculture Minister Michelle Gildernew could be their candidate.
“I want to commend the work of outgoing President Mary McAleese and her husband Martin – both citizens of this city,” he told party delegates.
“Next month the people will elect a new President of Ireland.
“The Presidency is not a trophy for the political establishment.
“Across this island more and more people are looking to Sinn Féin for leadership.
He said the party will put forward a candidate “who is capable of winning the support of progressive and nationalist opinion” and “who will reflect the broad republican spirit of the Irish people at this time.”
“The incoming Ard Chomhairle will consider this matter,” he said.
His speech was dominated by attacks on the Dublin government’s handling of the economic crisis, while he also challenged the British government to fulfil commitments to the peace process.
“Sinn Féin’s vision of a new Ireland – a New Republic for the 21st century is both pluralist and inclusive and based on equality and citizens rights,” he said.
“The new Republic must be built by Catholic, Protestant and Dissenter.
“I believe there are many people who share our goals.”
Earlier, Stormont Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness called on republicans to reach out to unionists whom he described as “brothers and sisters”.
“I see unionists as brothers and sisters to be loved and cherished as we continue to develop a genuine process of reconciliation on our journey to the New Republic,” he said.
On Friday evening, Presbyterian minister Reverend David Latimer made history when he became the first protestant clergyman to ever address a Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, hailing Mr McGuinness as one of the “true great leaders of modern times”.


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