Sinn Fein will nominate a candidate for president of Ireland and former Northern Irish Minister for Agriculture Michelle Gildernew,(41), is the likely choice according to reports.
The Sinn Fein annual convention is this weekend and the party is expected to announce that they will field a candidate following the refusal of Fianna Fail to do so.
Party leaders see the Fianna Fail failure to contest as a major opportunity for them to become the leading opposition party in the Irish Republic.
The two front runners for the race are both from the governing parties, Michael D.Higgins of Labor and Gay Mitchell of Fine Gael.
Sinn Fein decision to run a candidate for Irish president a body blow for Fianna Fail
Other potential runners include the party’s former European MP and now Irish member of parliament Mary Lou McDonald and current Monaghan member of parliament Caoimghin o Caolain.
A Sinn Fein candidate is unlikely to win but would certainly shake up the race which has suffered a number of major defections, most notably independent candidate Senator David Norris who was long the front runnerGildernew has been the Member of Parliament for the Fermanagh and South
Tyrone constituency since 2001 and has been a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly (MLA) for the Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituency since 25 June 1998. She is married with three children
Gildernew has been a member of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) and is the party's spokeswoman on equality and housing and has served on the Equality sub-committee and the Women's Forum.
Gildernew’s family were leading figures in the civil rights campaign in the 1960s