Mairead McGuinness hints at presidential run

Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness has signalled that she wants to run to succeed Michael D Higgins as President.

Mairead McGuinness hints at presidential run

Ms McGuinness said she believes there will be a contest and she will be guided by her party’s wishes as to whether it will contest the position.

She said as to her own position that she will “have to look at it”.

“The fact that I put my name forward the last time clearly shows that I had an interest,” she said. “At the moment I am vice president of the European Parliament so I would have to look at this, but I would really be guided by the party and what the party wishes are,” she said.

Independent senator Gerard Craughwell has stepped up his campaign to stand, on the basis that the people should be given a choice.

Mr Craughwell said he is responding to a widespread belief that the leaderships of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil do not want an election, given the costs involved, and are happy to allow President Higgins stand uncontested for a second term.

Ms McGuinness, who sought the nomination in 2011, said Mr Craughwell’s stance has “gathered momentum” and, on that basis, she felt “my instinct is that there is likely to be a contest”.

She said the Fine Gael party has not had a discussion, but if there is a contest then the parties will have to have a conversation.

Ms McGuinness also said while she may have an interest, the party may take a decision not to contest given the amount of money that would be involved.

“The issue of resources has been mentioned, these campaigns are costly to run, so there are alot of factors,” she said. “But there it is more likely than not that an election would take place.”

Ms McGuinness is one of a number of candidates who were at the weekend odds on favourites to win the race to the Aras. Other names in the mix are the broadcaster Miriam O’Callaghan, Barnados boss Fergus Finlay, and former Ombudsman and journalist Emily O’Reilly.

Over the Christmas period, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar hinted that his former tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald could run for the job of president, as he still holds her in “very high regard”.

The Taoiseach was asked if Ms Fitzgerald, who resigned last month after a scandal, could return to a senior role.

Given President Higgins has moved away from his commitment to only serve one term, there is a growing sense that should he want a second term, then Mr Varadkar would not block him.

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