‘Send off rally’ planned

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Large crowds are expected to gather in the Bogside on Thursday evening to support Martin McGuinness in his bid for the presidency.

While Mr McGuinness has been on the campaign trail across Ireland for almost two weeks, the campaign will start formally on Thursday after the deadline for nominations closes tomorrow evening.

Thursday evening’s rally will include a march from Westland Avenue, along Westland Street beginning at 6.30pm to Free Derry Corner where “a number of prominent Derry people” will endorse Mr McGuinness’ campaign, a Sinn Féin spokesperson has said.

The event has been billed as a “send off rally” as Mr McGuinness embarks on the campaign trail across Ireland ahead of the October 27 poll.

Derry republicans held an impromptu gathering at Free Derry Corner last Tuesday night to welcome Mr McGuinness back to the city after a day spent campaigning in county Clare attracted several hundred people but Sinn Féin in the city have predicted that Thursday’s event is likely to be considerably larger.

A website supporting his candidacy, www.thepeoplepresident.ie, was launched at the weekend has already attracted thousands of users.

Mr McGuinness’ campaign faced severe criticism because of his IRA past in a number of Irish newspapers at the weekend but the Sinn Féin leader dismissed it and said he is confident that voters will be able to look beyond his past and judge him by his entire political career. (Further coverage P9)