Earlier this evening Mr McGuinness – the deputy first minister in the North – was announced as the party’s candidate.
It will be ratified at a party meeting on Sunday.
Mr McGuinness needs the nomination of 20 members of the Oireachtas – three more than the party has, fuelling speculation that independents or even members of Fianna Fail may also back the Sinn Fein man.
Tonight Gerry Adams said: “The officer board will recommend that the candidate will be Martin McGuinness. Sinn Féin believes that the office of Uachtaran na hEireann has been made more relevant by Mary Robinson and by President Mary McAleese.
“This is a time of great challenge for all the people of Ireland. We need positive but authentic leadership.
“It will be a great honour for me to propose Martin McGuinness to contest this election on a broad, republican, citizen-centred platform.”
Mr Adams said: “I believe that this election will give Martin the platform to continue the work which he has led in the North and in the peace process and to put it on a national footing. I believe he can be the people’s president. If elected he will draw the average industrial wage.
“He will dedicate himself to a genuine national reconciliation and the unity of our people. He will personify hope in the great genius and integrity of all the people of this island – Catholics, Protestants and dissenters.”
The Sinn Féin leader went on: “I would appeal, if Martin contests this election, for people to join in this campaign, including people in the North and across the diaspora who are denied a vote at this time.
“The campaign will give citizens the opportunity to make a stand for a better Ireland, for a united Ireland.”
Mr McGuinness has huge connections with Donegal. His grandparents are from Inishowen.
On news of Mr McGuinness’s plan to run for the presidency, Derry Presbyterian Minister David Latimer said: “My first reaction is that this is a loss for Northern Ireland, because he has been involved in the process of turning our community 180 degrees and starting that new journey, if you like, that has taken us towards peace and a better future.
“I have watched Martin McGuinness change, so impressively change, that it would persuade me that he has a life beyond what he is currently engaged in, because he has, I think, changed in ways that prepare him for leadership at the highest level.”
Rev Latimer added: “In running for the President of Ireland, he would have my full support. At a difficult time economically, as well as socially and culturally, I would see him as a man who could send out ripples of hope.”Tags: