DERRY LEADS THE CHARGE

TWO Derry people have their eyes firmly set on becoming the next President of Ireland.

Just 24 hours after Martin McGuinness was formally declared as Sinn Fein’s candidate in the October 27 poll, the city’s Eurovision winner Dana Rosemary Scallon announced her intention to seek a nomination to contest the presidential election.

The former MEP told the ‘Journal’ last night that she would be seeking nominations from “mainly Independent TDs, following a series of calls and meetings”.

She also revealed she was hopeful that a number of Fianna Fail TDs would back her nomination “as they are not running an internal candidate”.

However, she was quick to insist that she would take support “from any quarter”.

To secure a place on the ballot paper, Mrs Scallon needs the backing of four county councils or 20 Oireachtas members.

She ran for the presidency in 1997 and secured her place on the ballot paper by winning a nomination from four county councils.

She picked up more than 175,000 first-preference votes in that poll, winning the support of 13.8 per cent of the electorate and finishing third behind Mary McAleese, of Fianna Fáil, and Mary Banotti, of Fine Gael.

Mr McGuinness, meanwhile, has defended his decision to run for the Irish Presidency, despite his former role as an IRA commander.

He said: “People know of my past, they also know of my deep commitment to peace and peace building. I want to continue to reach out to those directly affected by the actions of republicans in the course of the conflict.”

Mr McGuinness, who is stepping down as the North’s Deputy First Minister during the election campaign, pledged to be “a people’s president” if elected to Áras an Uachtaráin.

He said the Presidency would offer an opportunity to resolve what he described as “the unfinished business of the peace process”

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See pages 6 and 7 for further coverage.