In August 2017 I became concerned that the main political parties in Leinster House were working together to deny the citizens of this Republic the opportunity to select their next President by means of an election.
I feared that members of the Oireachtas and City and County Councillors would be prevented by the party whip from exercising their democratic right to nominate candidates and that the Presidency would simply be “rolled over” uncontested for another 7 years.
I strongly believe that a system which prevents candidates other than the incumbent from securing a nomination and mounting a challenge is profoundly undemocratic and completely out of line with the principles of democracy enshrined in our constitution which states that “The President shall be elected by direct vote of the people.
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.
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.
In particular I am delighted that as the direct representatives of every community in Ireland, City and County Councillors, will have a strong and vital say in who our next President will be.
I would like to thank all those who encouraged me personally and who supported my campaign for an open and democratic election.
I will now stand aside and take no further part in the process other than to wish each and every candidate every success in their campaign.