If personal following is anything to go by then Martin McGuinness will poll well in the upcoming presidential election. He was surrounded by supporters when he entered An Poc Fada public house in Rose Inn Street, Kilkenny on Saturday afternoon where the owner of the licensed premises, Philip McBride declared that Mr McGuinness had the experience and that was what was needed now. “He has a good chance and he will be in the first three at least,” Mr McBride adding if Mr McGuinness received a good vote, the party would be happy. Mr McGuinness was more upbeat and said that he had a chance of winning and believed that the ordinary people of the country were behind him.
He intimated that the intervention of Environment Minister Phil Hogan in the campaign and Mr Hogan’s attack on him had been counterproductive and that people had seen through it. “I think that several of the interventions by Fine Gael have helped me,” Mr McGuinness said. He said he was not going to get into negative comments and said he had been heartened by the welcome he had received in Kilkenny city where around 200 people had gathered to meet him.
He spoke of his record in Northern Ireland in helping to negotiate a peace settlement and bringing political stability while helping as Deputy First Minister to bring thousands of jobs to Northern Ireland.
“I want to be a jobs president and if anybody has a special relationship with the US it is me with Bill and Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama,” he said.
He didn’t forget Sinn Fein city councillor, Kathleen Funchion. “She is well placed to retain her seat at the next local elections and build on her breakthrough and to win a Dail seat for us as well,” he said.
He said he wanted to be a unifying president – to unite the people of Ireland. “One of the reasons for the economic crisis was the loss of a sense of common purpose. It was mé féinism. That favoured the greedy and the wealthy and left the mass of citizens behind. For too long people have been treated as consumers with or without spending power. Instead they should be treated as citizens with rights. In my presidency I will emphasise the importance of citizenship, of being proud to be part of a community and a country,” he said.