Sinn Féin on the verge of unveiling their presidential candidate
The party’s last presidential candidate was the late Martin McGuinness.
Members of the Sinn Féin party from all over the country attended the group's annual 48-hour conference at the Kilmore Hotel in Cavan on Monday afternoon to stage the party's first national think-in under leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Up for discussion were the topics of Brexit, a United Ireland and the upcoming budget. The party also had plans to discuss their presidential candidate who is set to remain under wraps until mid-September.
While the party has confirmed that they don't plan to announce their mystery presidential candidate until 16 September, speculation has mounted since their decision to put a candidate forward, with a number of people claiming that Cavan/Monaghan General Election candidate Matt Carthy will be the group's decision.
Carthy has served as an MEP for the Midlands North-West region since 2014, and has confirmed that he would run for a seat in the Dáil in the next election.
As of Monday lunchtime, Kildare town and Newbridge Sinn Féin nominated the local MEP as their preferred candidate to contest the upcoming Presidential election.
In a statement to Northern Sound News, the Newbridge-Kildare Cumann (Sinn Féin is divided into various different cumainn), nominated Carthy as their preferred candidate.
— Elisha McCallion (@ElishaMcC_SF) September 3, 2018
It’s also believed that Liadh Ní Riada, a fellow Sinn Féin MEP, is expected to run as the party’s candidate.
Ní Riada, who boasts 20 years’ experience of working as a producer and director with both RTÉ and TG4, has since vehemently denied the accusation.
It's understood that the Munster politician has the capacity to attract support from well-beyond her party's base and may join McDonald in the role of female representative of the political party.
The 51-year-old has been famously labelled as an anti-vaxxer in recent times following concerns expressed about the HPV vaccine – a shot offered to first and second-year girls which prevents the development of cervical cancer.
Le go leor moill ar an bóthar- finally arrived in Cavan. Shaping up to be a really positive few days & looking forward to hearing all the views about the way forward for all.@sinnfeinireland
— Liadh Ní Riada (@LiadhNiRiadaMEP) September 3, 2018
Ní Riada insisted she was taken up incorrectly, something she has since referenced on Twitter.
With the exception of Sinn Féin, each of the challengers has to try to secure the support of four Local Authorities to get onto the ballot paper.
Sinn Féin's David Cullinane has recently rejected claims that the party's plan to nominate a candidate just six weeks prior to the expected election date was in a bid to avoid prolonged media scrutiny of their candidate.
A number of presidential hopefuls are currently on a prolonged tour of the country, seeking nomination from local councils.
It was just announced on Monday that Independent candidate Gavin Duffy has secured a nomination from Meath County Council, beating out Sean Gallagher and Joan Freeman.
Several other hopefuls are also vying for nominations, including journalist Gemma O’Doherty and artist Kevin Sharkey. Current president Michael D. Higgins is also running for a second term despite indicating at his inauguration that he would only remain in the role for seven years.
The presidential election is to be held on the 26 October.