Sinn Féin MEP Liadh Ní Riada has ruled out making a second bid to become president of Ireland, saying “once is enough”.
Ms Ní Riada confirmed she will not make a new Áras attempt as she admitted she was disappointed by the result but stood by her controversial views on a future president wearing the poppy.
Ahead of Friday’s MEP elections, Ms Ní Riada said it was “a huge privilege” to contest last autumn’s presidential election and not something “you regret”.
However, speaking nine months after she finished joint third in the race on 6.4% first preferences, far behind Michael D Higgins’ 55.4% and Peter Casey’s 23.3%, she said she does not want to put herself through the race again.
“Well, firstly, I would have to say it was a huge privilege because not everybody gets the opportunity to run for president. It’s always the things you don’t do that you regret.
"Imagine if I was there in 20 years’ time thinking ‘oh, I could’ve been...’ without even knowing. So you definitely don’t regret it. But I would say once is enough for me,” she said.
In a bruising presidential election contest, Ms Ní Riada faced a backlash over revelations she would wear the poppy if she became president as well as questions over her stance on the HPV and other vaccines.
Asked if she stood by the remarks, the Ireland South MEP said her poppy comments were “an honest answer at the time” and only “in the context of being an uachtaráin”.
While stressing she would not personally choose to wear a poppy, Ms Ní Riada said it needs to be “a decision for whoever the uachtaráin is” to make in the future if there is a push towards a united Ireland.
"As a personal choice and as an MEP, I would never wear a poppy, I want to be absolutely clear about that. That’s where my head was in that regard, specifically as an uachtaráin where you would have no affiliation to any political grouping.
“[A future president wearing the poppy] would be a decision for whoever the uachtaráin is. It’s not for me to say,” she said.
Asked about her views on the HPV vaccine, which caused her difficulty during last year’s presidential elections after she refused to clarify if her daughters were given the jab, she said: “Oh no, I’m absolutely wholeheartedly in favour of the HPV vaccine, unless there’s an underlying medical issue.
“As a parent I sought assurances because I didn’t feel the information being given was adequate enough. I sought reassurances, I was assured, and I wholeheartedly support the vaccine.
“Anything that could help anybody not get a life-threatening disease, we have to follow the science. And that’s it.”