Sinn Féin will contest the upcoming Irish Presidential election
"We believe that there is an appetite for political and social change."
Sinn Féin will officially present a candidate to oppose President Michael D. Higgins in this year's election.
Party leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has confirmed that the Ard Chomhairle has appointed a Presidential Election Committee to oversee the process of selecting a candidate.
“Ireland and the world have changed in the seven years since we last had a presidential election," said McDonald on Saturday afternoon.
"A new generation has become politically engaged and have been central to changing Ireland for the better as we saw in the marriage equality referendum and in the referendum to remove the Eighth Amendment.
"In those referenda, young people voted in unprecedented numbers. It is right that we give this generation the opportunity to be part of a wider conversation about what a better Ireland should look like.
"These citizens should be given the opportunity to be part of deciding who our President is. Those under the age of twenty-five have never voted in a Presidential election. They shouldn’t have to wait until the age of thirty-two to have this opportunity."
McDonald went on to state that "it is simply wrong" that citizens are denied their right to vote "because the political establishment of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, and Labour do not want an election."
The Sinn Féin leader argued that a presidential election could be a very positive move for the country.
"We believe that there is an appetite for political and social change," said McDonald.
“President Michael D Higgins sought and received a mandate to serve as our President for the past seven years. I want to commend President Higgins and his wife Sabina on how they have represented Ireland during the term of his presidency. He is a President we can be proud of.
“But this election will be about the next seven years, about who is best to lead our country into that future. An Uachtarán that can represent the future as well as our proud past.
“We are entering this race because we want to bring our vision for the future of all of Ireland to the people. We will seek during the campaign to have a progressive conversation about building a new, agreed and United Ireland. And we will ask the people to endorse that vision for the future.”
The announcement caps a very eventful week for Sinn Féin following the news that the family homes of Gerry Adams and Bobby Storey were attacked with explosive devices on Friday.
Adams retorted on Saturday, making a "direct appeal" to those who attacked him.
"For those who were involved in the attack if they have the gumption to sneak up on our homes I think they or their representatives should come and meet me," said Adams.
"I would like them to have the guts and the gumption to sit down and tell what this is about.
"I would also like those who are involved in exploiting children in Derry or those who are poisoning the atmosphere in east Belfast to do the same."
Regarding the upcoming Irish election, Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan spoke with Miriam O'Callaghan during the week following the news that President Michael D. Higgins intends to run for a second term.
The Minister noted that his party had yet to arrive at a decision on whether or not to contest the election, and offered his view that an election held simply for the sake of it wouldn't be good for democracy.
Flanagan campaigned against the President during the last election, but stated that he is on record in supporting his "excellence" over the past seven years, particularly highlighting his connection with and influence on young Irish people.
Asked if Fine Gael would consider financially supporting the President's bid for a second term, the Minister offered an even-handed response.
"These are issues that haven't been discussed by my party," he said. "If we're supporting President Michael D. Higgins I believe we need to do so, other than on the airwaves.
"If there isn't a Fine Gael candidate, I will be actively campaigning in my constituency and beyond for Michael D. Higgins, who has been an excellent President, and I wish him all the best in his campaign."