“Last week the Fianna Fáil front bench discussed the issue of the forthcoming election for Uachtarán na hÉireann. Given that the election is not until near the end of the year and that the nominations process has yet to begin, we intend to take the next month to decide on a definitive party position on the nomination. For the meantime, there is clear agreement on our priorities and how we will proceed.
“The first and most important point is that we see the presidency as being above politics. The success of the office has been defined by the ability of its holders to be unifying national figures. Equally, party labels are increasingly less important in influencing the outcome of presidential elections.
“Given that there is no incumbent standing and the experience of previous elections where a contest increased the standing of the office, we believe that there should be a contest between a range of candidates who are potentially credible holder of the office of President.
“It is the Fianna Fáil view that the people of this country are entitled to have as wide a choice for the office of President as possible and that this choice should not be limited to the official nominations of the political parties. For this reason, I will not be taking the same approach as other parties as they seek to block the nomination of independent candidates and will permit party representatives to facilitate the candidacy of individuals who they believe should have the right to stand before the