Adams vows to stay at SF helm


Gerry Adams said today he has no intention of standing down as president of Sinn Féin despite recent rumblings of discontent within party ranks.

The West Belfast MP - who has led the party for over 25 years - insisted there was no issue over his  position.

A combination of disappointing local and European electoral results in the Republic and a public criticism of party policy by European election candidate Toireasa Ferris had sparked speculation about Mr Adams’ future.

Ms Ferris said the party is no longer seen as relevant in the Republic and had lost touch with its grassroots.

Mr Adams (60) today insisted he welcomed debate and suggestions on the direction of the party but said there was no question of him not being leader. “It isn’t an issue at this time. I’m the party president and sin é,” he said.

Asked if he would still be leader in five years time, he said: “I have no intention of not being the party president.”

Ms Ferris claimed in a recent article in An Phoblachtthat Sinn Féin “means nothing to the bulk of people in the South”. She also said there was an identity crisis within Sinn Féin, which was looked upon by voters in the Republic as “a Northern-based party, irrelevant to the everyday concerns of people in the 26 Counties”.

Mr Adams refused to be drawn on his opinions on the claims but said there was a debate going on within the republican movement which was different to any debate in the Dublin-based media, which he said was biased against the party.

“My function is to encourage very active debate within the party and wider,” he said. “It isn’t for me to adjudicate publicly on what is said by any of the people who are bringing these suggestions forward.

“Toireasa clearly is one of that raft of younger activists who are very, very passionate about their views, who are very genuine and sincere about their republicanism and are part of what is going to be the future for the party right across the island.”

On remarks by Fine Gael’s former national director of elections, Frank Flannery, that his party could potentially do a coalition deal with Sinn Féin Mr Adams said that was unlikely.

“I think it would be quite difficult to come to an agreement with a party like Fine Gael which is conservative and which is not about the type of social changes we want to see or is not about a united Ireland, except in a rhetorical sense,” he said. “But that isn’t an argument for today, that will be an argument for if and when there is an election.”