Mary Lou McDonald hints Sinn Féin may put forward Irish presidential candidate

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has hinted the party may put forward a candidate to contest the Irish presidency
Seanin Graham

SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has strongly hinted her party will put forward a candidate to contest the Irish Presidential election.

Just days after former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern ruled himself out of running against incumbent Michael D Higgins, the Sinn Féin president said the person occupying the "highest office in the land" ought to have "an electoral sanction and mandate behind them".

"I don't think it's appropriate that the incumbent rolls into another term of office seamlessly. I think the election provides a platform for a very healthy debate about Ireland," she told reporters outside Leinster House yesterday.

Ms McDonald added that a final decision will be taken at the party's next Ard Comhairle meeting - but it remains unclear who will be selected.

Mr Ahern - who had been widely tipped as a potential candidate" - has said he supported a second presidential term for Mr Higgins "all along".

Meanwhile, the Sinn Féin leader has said Theresa May needs to be called out for delaying tactics over the lack of progress for the Irish border.

She expressed concern over the British Government's position in dealing with the border issue.

It comes after European leaders urged Ms May to intensify efforts so a Brexit withdrawal agreement can be concluded as soon as possible.

Ms McDonald said "time is running short" and the "antics" of the British government could not be tolerated.

"From speaking with the French parliamentary delegation, I would have to say that you would get a very strong sense that they are holding to the position that there cannot be a new relationship hammered out with Britain in the absence to the Irish question," she said.

"It's now clear that these matters can't be allowed to simply roll into October. It is clear that Mrs May needs to be called out for the delaying tactics.

"We know that there is a Foreign Affairs Council meeting in July. We are told that it is to be dedicated to the issue of Brexit. We hope that the format can be used to gain clarity and make some progress on these matters."

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