Irish Independent - Weekend Review - - AGENDA -


Age: 64.

Cur­rent job: In­de­pen­dent se­na­tor.

Back­ground: Craugh­well comes from Salthill in Co Gal­way and has served in both the Bri­tish and Ir­ish armies. A former pres­i­dent of the Teach­ers’ Union of Ire­land, he ini­tially seemed to have lit­tle chance in a 2014 Seanad by-elec­tion but won af­ter the Fine Gael can­di­date with­drew over a crony­ism row.

What he says: “Michael D Hig­gins gave his as­sur­ance that he would be a one-term pres­i­dent… what’s hap­pen­ing here is old-style pol­i­tics and cute hoorism.”


Cur­rent job: Fianna Fáil se­na­tor. Back­ground: Be­fore en­ter­ing pol­i­tics, Mark Daly fin­ished third on the RTÉ re­al­ity tele­vi­sion show Trea­sure Is­land in 2002. From a strongly repub­li­can Kerry fam­ily, he has com­piled an Oireach­tas re­port on how Brexit could lead to a united Ire­land, in­tro­duced new pro­to­cols for the Ir­ish flag and cam­paigned to have the na­tional an­them ‘Amhrán na bhFiann’ en­shrined in leg­is­la­tion.

What he says: “I have been hum­bled by party mem­bers who ap­proached me and asked me to con­sider putting my name for­ward.”


Age: 68

Cur­rent job: Out­go­ing CEO of chil­dren’s char­ity Barnar­dos. Back­ground: As a Labour Party strate­gist, Fin­lay worked closely on Mary Robin­son’s tri­umphant pres­i­den­tial cam­paign in 1990 and Adi Roche’s dis­as­trous one in 1997. He un­suc­cess­fully ran against Michael D Hig­gins for the Labour nom­i­na­tion last time around and will not di­rectly chal­lenge him again, but re­mains in­ter­ested in the po­si­tion.

What he says: “I would run a sleeves rolled up, com­mu­ni­ty­based pres­i­dency… That’s not the role Michael D has cho­sen to fol­low, but he has done a fan­tas­tic job in other ar­eas.”

MAIREAD McGUIN­NESS Age: 59 Cur­rent job: Fine Gael MEP. Back­ground: Al­though McGuin­ness was beaten by Gay Mitchell for the Fine Gael nom­i­na­tion seven years ago, few peo­ple doubt that she still har­bours se­ri­ous pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions. A former RTÉ pre­sen­ter and Ir­ish In­de­pen­dent farm­ing jour­nal­ist, she has been a high-pro­file mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment since 2004 and be­came its vice pres­i­dent last year.

What she says: “The fact that I put my name for­ward the last time clearly shows that I had an in­ter­est, but I would re­ally be guided by [Fine Gael] and what the party wants.”


Age: 51

Cur­rent job: Sinn Féin MEP.

Back­ground: A daugh­ter of the ‘Mise Éire’ com­poser Seán Ó Ri­ada, she worked as a tele­vi­sion pro­ducer and di­rec­tor be­fore en­ter­ing the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. She was a mem­ber of the board that set up TG4, ap­pointed by the then arts min­is­ter — one Michael D Hig­gins.

What she says: Yet to make any pub­lic com­ment about the pres­i­dency but is widely seen as Sinn Féin’s like­li­est can­di­date. The Cork woman was de­nounced by Ul­ster union­ists last year for sug­gest­ing in a Hot Press in­ter­view that IRA atroc­i­ties should not be de­scribed as “ter­ror­ism”.

PADRAIG Ó CÉIDIGH Age: 61 Cur­rent job: In­de­pen­dent se­na­tor. Back­ground: Best known as the founder of re­gional air­line Aer Arann, Ó Céidigh was ap­pointed to the Seanad by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in 2016. The suc­cess­ful busi­ness­man and flu­ent Ir­ish speaker from Con­nemara claims that he has the back­ing of many par­lia­men­tary col­leagues for a pres­i­den­tial run.

What he says: “I am not in­ter­ested in be­ing a can­di­date just for the sake of it. If I go for some­thing, I am the type of guy that would give it socks… 100 per cent.”


Age: 57

Cur­rent job: Artist and po­lit­i­cal ac­tivist.

Back­ground: Raised in Done­gal, Sharkey’s colour­ful CV in­cludes be­ing Ire­land’s first black tele­vi­sion pre­sen­ter, ap­pear­ing on Fa­ther Ted and work­ing as a gigolo dur­ing the last re­ces­sion. In re­cent times he has caused con­tro­versy by crit­i­cis­ing the Ir­ish gov­ern­ment’s spend­ing on for­eign aid and ques­tion­ing the level of im­mi­gra­tion here.

What he says: “I couldn’t be more anti-es­tab­lish­ment if I tried… I al­ways felt there would come a time when I wanted to give some­thing back for all I’ve got from Ire­land.”

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