Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness, said he is running for president as he wants to provide an opportunity for citizens to vote for someone who wants to represent the whole of Ireland.
In an exclusive interview, McGuinness told the Irish Voice in New York that he wants to “represent all of Ireland, north, south, east and west, everybody on the island no matter what their political persuasion is, no matter what their political conviction is”.
“I am someone who has struggled myself all my life and I think the people of Ireland will respond to someone, I hope, they think can meet their expectations.
“Against all the odds I was able to build a relationship with Ian Paisley and Peter Robinson.
“I think people have been struck by that and will see me as someone who can represent them on the world stage as best I can.
“I am going forward on a very clear, broad platform as someone who has been very much involved in one of the most major political transformations that Ireland has seen in the course of the last ten or fifteen years,” he added.
Speaking about whether he thought Ireland was ready for a Sinn Fein president he said it was it up to the public to decide.
“A lot of people will be thinking about the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Rising and there may people who think it would be nice to have a Sinn Fein president, but that’s really a matter for the people,” he said.
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McGuinness, who is returning to Ireland on Saturday morning, will seek the approval of the party’s Ard Chomhairle this Sunday and is expected to be officially announced as the Sinn Fein candidate thereafter.
Speaking to the Irish Voice in the lobby of Fitzpatrick’s Hotel in Manhattan on Friday evening, McGuinness said his bid for the Aras has “certainly made the presidential race far more interesting”.
In his first interview as the Sinn Fein presidential candidate, he revealed he had only made the final decision on Thursday night after he spoke with Gerry Adams.
“In a recent number of days it has been clear that a lot of people within the party thought that this was something that I should go for.
“I have thought about it whilst I have been in the United States and only really made the decision last night in the aftermath of a phone call with Gerry Adams,” he told the Irish Voice.
He said he is confident his work with the Northern Assembly will not be derailed by a presidential bid.
“In my absence the work that I have been engaged in will be very carefully managed by other very dependable people within the party, who I have absolute trust and faith in,” he told the Irish Voice.
“I have no concerns whatsoever about the stability of the institution,” he added.
The Deputy First Minister was in the U.S. with First Minister Peter Robinson to open the New York branch of the Northern Irish financial services firm First Derivatives.
McGuinness, who said he feels “honored” to have been asked to run, said he will be satisfied whether he is elected or not.
“It’s matter for the people, I throw myself at their mercy,” he concluded.