Northern Ireland

Who are the seven people bidding to be the next president of Ireland?

Aras an Uachtarain, the official residence of the Irish President
Image caption The role of president is largely ceremonial

On 27 October more than three million people will be eligible to vote for the ninth president of Ireland.

The president, who serves as head of state, is elected for a seven-year term and can be re-elected only once.

The role itself is largely ceremonial but the president has the right, after consulting with the Council of State, to refer the constitutionality of bills to the Supreme Court and may also refuse the dissolution of the Dail to a Taoiseach who has lost a vote of confidence.

Everything else the president does must be approved by the government of the day.

So who are the candidates in the running to become the next Irish president and take office on 11 November?

Mary Davis: Independent

The 57-year-old is best known for bringing the Special Olympics to Ireland in 2003, as the then chief executive of Special Olympics Ireland.

From the town of Swinford in County Mayo, Mary Davis studied physical education in Leeds and first volunteered for Special Olympics when working as a physical education co-ordinator in Dublin

In 2004, she was appointed to the Council of State by President Mary McAleese.

Campaign slogan: Pride at Home. Respect Abroad.

Sean Gallagher: Independent

An entrepreneur and businessman who is best known to the Irish public as one of the panellists on RTE's Dragon's Den.

From Ballyhaise, County Cavan the 49-year-old was born with congenital cataracts and was virtually blind as a child until he received corrective surgery.

He studied at agriculture college, obtained qualifications in community development and was a co-founder of home technology company, Smarthomes, but is no longer involved in the business.

Campaign slogan: Let's Put our Strengths to Work

Michael D Higgins: Labour Party

A poet and human rights activist, Michael D Higgins was also the Labour Party politician for the Galway West constituency for most of the past 30 years.

Born in Limerick and raised in Newmarket, County Clare, he studied sociology and worked as a lecturer before entering politics.

At 70 years of age he is the oldest candidate in the field and also served as Ireland's first Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht.

Campaign slogan: The president who will do us proud

Martin McGuinness: Sinn Fein

He began as a trainee butcher but abandoned his apprenticeship as a result of his involvement in the civil rights movement in Derry in 1968.

He joined Sinn Féin in 1970 and joined the IRA, according to his website, in the 1970s. He says he left the IRA in 1974 and has denied killing anyone while in the IRA.

He was elected to the peace negotiations in 1996 and was appointed the Sinn Féin chief negotiator in the talks, which led to the Good Friday Agreement.

Was first elected elected MP for the Mid-Ulster constituency in 1997 and 10 years later became the Deputy First Minister, a position he currently holds alongside the DUP leader and First Minister Peter Robinson.

He is not standing as a Sinn Fein candidate.

Campaign slogan: The People's President

Gay Mitchell: Fine Gael

From Inchicore in Dublin, the 59-year-old was educated at the College of Commerce and Queen's University in Belfast obtaining qualifications in accountancy and politics.

As a teenager he worked on a Dublin factory floor as a coach builder.

A 32-year career in politics has seen him serve office as a Dublin city councillor, the city's lord mayor, a minister for state, and currently, an MEP for Dublin.

Campaign slogan: Understands our past. Believes in our future

David Norris: Independent

A senator and James Joyce scholar, best known for his central role to have homosexuality decriminalised in Ireland.

Born in the Belgian Congo he was raised in Ireland and studied English at Trinity College in Dublin where he worked between 1968 and 1996.

The 67-year-old was the first openly gay person to be elected to public office in Ireland.

Campaign slogan: None as yet

Dana Rosemary Scallon: Independent

Former Eurovision Song Contest winner for Ireland in 1970, with a song called All Kinds of Everything.

Best known simply as Dana, she moved in the 1980s to the United States when she became popular as a Christian performing artist.

The 60-year-old previously secured a nomination to run in the 1997 Irish presidential election and came third but went on to win a seat in the European Parliament, representing the Ulster-Connaught constituency.

Campaign slogan: None as yet

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