Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Féin’s nominee for the upcoming Irish Presidential election has appeared to distance herself from her party in much of her campaign material. This includes Ní Riada’s election posters which have begun to appear on lampposts around the country and include no indication of her affiliation to the party she currently represents in the European Parliament for the constituency of Ireland South.
The colour scheme of the posters, mainly purple and white, also does not hold connotations of the party but may instead be an attempt to associate the candidate with the Suffragette movement which used a similar colour scheme and have been in the public consciousness recently as in 2018 we celebrate 100 years of women having the vote in Ireland and Britain.
It is also the case for much of her campaign merchandise that it omits all reference of the party. On the homepage of Ní Riada’s official campaign website you have to scroll down past the main header, a short form to join the campaign, an election video, a family photo and a couple of paragraphs of text before you find a solitary mention of the party.
This decision to seldom reference the party name in Ní Riada’s election material is not likely to be borne out of a personal desire of the candidate to distance herself from her own party but rather a recognition that she must move beyond and attract wider appeal than Sinn Féin’s current share of the national vote in the South which sits around 15%. She would need to poll well beyond this number in order for her campaign to be considered a success.
Due to the nature of the office, Presidential elections also tend to be less political and focus more on the values and personality of the person running. However, this level of ommission of the name of the party of which Ní Riada is a member and to which she owes her nomination may be viewed as dishonest by some people. Ní Riada is the only candidate currently running on behalf of a political party, with all five other candidates running as independents.
The Irish Presidential election will take place on Friday 26th of October and it is widely considered to be a forgone conclusion that the winner will be the incumbent, Michael D Higgins.
Finn Purdy is a student from Belfast, currently studying at Trinity College Dublin.