SINN FÉIN have announced Liadh Ní Riada as their candidate in the upcoming Irish presidential election.
In a speech today, the MEP for Ireland South said she wants to help shape a ‘new and United Ireland’.
She also said wanted to bring home the thousands forced to leave Ireland for Britain and further afield due to a lack of opportunities at home.
New, United Ireland
Ms Ní Riada, 51, said Ireland had changed radically since the last presidential campaign in 2011, when her ‘political inspiration’ Martin McGuinness was the Sinn Féin candidate.
“I will be a positive voice for Irish unity,” she said, “leading by example and demonstrating the outreach and inclusivity that is needed to bring the people of this island together.
“If I am president, Áras an Uachtaráin will be a welcoming house for all.
“The island of Ireland today is in transition. Brexit will have a major impact on the political and constitutional future of this island.
“Increasingly the prospect, shape and nature of a United Ireland will be a feature of public discussion and political decision making.
“As President, I will initiate an inclusive citizens conversation on a future united Ireland.
“The past seven years have witnessed the disappearance of a lot of Ireland’s old certainties. Partition too will be overcome.”
Ms Ní Riada said she wanted to empower the Irish abroad but also wanted to transform Ireland into a place they could return to.
She said: “There are exciting opportunities within the parameters of Oifig an Úachtarán to really empower people – through educational scholarships, by reaching out to our Diaspora, by helping to promote women on their journey towards full equality of citizenship, or by nurturing the incredible, untapped potential of our rich culture.”
She added: “When abroad, I will put the interests of the Irish people first, as I always have.
“I will lead a drive to bring home a generation forced to leave since the economic crash.
“I will give leadership on the values that should underpin a New Ireland – such as the economy serving the needs of our people and not the other way around.”
The presidential election will take place on October 26, with Ms Ní Riada up against incumbent Michael D Higgins, businessmen Sean Gallagher and Gavin Duffy and Senator Joan Freeman.