Senator Gerard Craughwell withdraws from presidential race

He says he has opened up a "national conversation on the presidential nomination and election process"

Senator Gerard Craughwell withdraws from presidential race

Photo: Mark Stedman/RollingNews.ie

Independent Senator Gerard Craughwell has withdrawn from the presidential race.

He confirmed the decision in a statement this morning, in which he suggests a system that prevents candidates other than the incumbent securing a nomination process is 'profoundly undemocratic'.

Candidates hoping to secure a nomination need at least 20 members of the Oireachtas or at least four local authorities to back their bid.

Senator Craughwell was one of the first politicians to express an interest in contesting any presidential election this year against Michael D Higgins, who is seeking a second term.

In his statement, Senator Craughwell said: "To ensure that there would be a presidential election in 2018, I put myself forward as a potential candidate. In doing so I opened up what has been the first serious national conversation on the presidential nomination and election process."

He added: "I welcomed the announcements last week that Sinn Féin is putting forward a candidate and that Fianna Fáil Councillors will be free to nominate independent candidates for the presidential election.

"As many potential candidates have  indicated their intention to seek a nomination and mount a campaign, I am now satisfied that I have achieved the objective that I set out last August." 

He said he will stand aside, wishing "each and every candidate every success in their campaign".

As well as the candidate set to be put forward by Sinn Féin, other potential candidates who have expressed an interest in running include Senators Joan Freeman and Pádraig Ó Céidigh, former GAA president Liam O'Neill, and artist Kevin Sharkey.