McGuinness seeks FG nomination in prez race

Fine Gael MEP Maireád McGuinness has announced that she will seek the party's nomination for the Irish presidency.

McGuinness, a former journalist and television presenter, made her intention public in a speech in County Kildare at the weekend.

She told the audience at the opening of an art exhibition she had thought long and hard about before deciding that she wished to run for the presidency in October's race.

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The MEP, who represents the Republic's East constituency in the European Parliament had previously informed Taoiseach Enda Kenny she would make the announcement.

McGuinness said her decision was made after several members of the public had asked her intentions.

"I am honored and humbled that people would even ask me that question," she said.

"I will be delighted and honored if my party gives me the opportunity to go before the people to work with you, as your president in imagining a renewed, creative and dynamic Ireland."

The news follows previous speculation about Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney being the party's nominee.

Meanwhile, former independent TD Jackie Healy-Rae has confirmed he is thinking about throwing his cap into the race for the presidency.

The 80-year-old served from 1997 until 2011, when he was succeeded by his son Michael. He had previously been involved in Fianna Fail since the 1960s, before splitting from the party in 1997 after failing to get their nomination for a Dáil election.

"I never lost an election in my life," he said.

"I'll discuss it further now with my own team and in about 10 to 15 days I'll have my mind made up. I wouldn't contest it to lose," he added.

His son Michael said he would be confident of his father being victorious in the race.

"He's a highly experienced politician with absolutely brilliant capabilities and an excellent and articulate mind," he said. "I've no doubt his organizational abilities would serve him well in a nationwide campaign."

The Labour Party is expected to choose between party president Michael D. Higgins, a former culture and Gaeltacht minister, and party advisor Fergus Finlay when the Seanad elections of April 27 are completed.

MEP Brian Crowley has been mentioned as the most likely Fianna Fáil candidate should the party decide to run one, while Sinn Féin is not expected to put a nominee forward.