Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness will be officially announced as the Sinn Fein candidate for the Irish presidency this weekend.

McGuinness has been approved by the party’s officer board and will now seek a formal approval from the Ard Comhairle, the party's national committee which is a formality.

Sinn Fein has said it will officially announce its candidate on Sunday. Former Stormont minister Michelle Gildernew and GAA legend Mickey Harte had also been rumored as contenders for the Sinn Fein nomination.

The McGuinness move means that he will take a leave of absence  from his job as Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister. DUP leader Peter Robinson did the same last year when mounting personal problems of his wife preoccupied him.

McGuinness will transform a field that had  been regarded as uninspiring up to this point. Paddy Power bookmakers immediately pegged him as a 6/1 shot with Micheal D.Higgins of the Labor Party at odds of 4/5 and Gay Mitchell of Fine Gael at 3/1.

His entry makes bad news for Fianna Fail leader Miceal Martin whose party has not nominated a candidate and who now has handed  Sinn Fein the opportunity to become the effective main opposition party to the Irish  government.
Read More:

Ireland’s presidential race heats up as deadlines for nominations draw close

Fianna Fail meeting on Presidential race becomes ‘a complete bitch fest’

Sinn Fein decision to run a candidate for Irish president a body blow for Fianna Fail

Senator David Norris has renewed his attempts to secure a nomination yesterday when he met with Independent TDs. He is scheduled to appear on the Late Late Show this evening to discuss his reentrance into the presidential race. He pulled out of the race in August over controversy concerning his former partner Ezra Nawi, who was convicted of the statutory rape of a minor in Israel.