Northern Ireland

Sinn Fein set to run for Irish presidency

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionGerry Adams: "Across this island, more and more people are looking to Sinn Fein for leadership"

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has indicated his party will put forward a candidate for the Irish presidency for the first time.

Speaking at his party's annual conference in Belfast, Mr Adams said the office should not be a "trophy" for the political establishment.

Voters go to the polls next month to choose a successor to two-term president Mary McAleese.

Sinn Fein currently are the fourth largest party in the Irish Republic.

Mr Adams added: "Across this island more and more people are looking to Sinn Fein for leadership. In my view Sinn Fein should support the nomination of a candidate to be President of Ireland.

"A candidate who is capable of winning the support of progressive and nationalist opinion.

"And who will reflect the broad republican spirit of the Irish people at this time."

BBC Ireland correspondent Mark Simpson said that although Sinn Fein's chances of winning the presidency were low, they dramatically increased their support at the last election, trebling their seat tally in the Irish parliament.

Among those thought to be in the running for the Sinn Fein candidacy is the Westminster MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone, Michelle Gildernew.

Mr Adams also used his speech to criticise the Irish government's handling of the country's economic crisis and to call on the British government to fulfill commitments to the peace process in Northern Ireland.

More on this story