Sinn Féin TD says Adams may not be leader by next election

Regina Doherty also claims she is a ‘loyal supporter’ of Enda Kenny at MacGill event

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin has said it is ‘quite possible’ that Gerry Adams will no longer be party leader in five years’ time. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin has said it is ‘quite possible’ that Gerry Adams will no longer be party leader in five years’ time. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A Sinn Féin TD has said it is “quite possible” that Gerry Adams will no longer be party leader in five years’ time, following a call from a party activist for Mr Adams to stand aside after 30 years in the role.

Dublin Mid-West deputy Eoin Ó Bróin told the Patrick MacGill Summer School in Co Donegal that there was no reason why the party could not continue to move forward under its current stewardship.

He was responding to Co Cavan member Tommy McNulty, who recently wrote a letter to the Irish News saying he was at the Sinn Féin ardfheis in 1986 when Mr Adams and other Northern leaders wrested control of the party from southerners such as Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Dáithí Ó Conaill.

Mr McNulty, chairman of the Virginia-Mullagh Sinn Féin cumann, said he supported the takeover at the time but now felt it was time for Mr Adams to go.

“But just as there was a time for change in 1986, there is a time for change again in 2016,” he wrote.

Sammy Davis Jnr once famously said that one of the great secrets of life was ‘knowing when to get on the stage and knowing when to get off it’. I believe the time has come for Mr Adams to get off it.”

Mr Ó Bróin said he expected the leadership would change in time.

“Is it going to happen in the next year or two? I don’t think so. Is it likely to happen in the next five years or so? That’s quite possible,” he said.

Mr Ó Bróin said he always had the sense the MacGill school was the “political and media establishment talking to themselves”, during which they “pontificated on the good and the bad of our political debate”.

However, the director of the school, Dr Joe Mulholland, defended the event.

“This school is non-partisan,” he said, adding that what it tried to do was invite people to debate and contribute to improving the governance of Ireland.

Mr Ó Broin said he tended not to speak from a script, but Fine Gael TD and Government Chief Whip Regina Doherty said that after recent events she was sticking firmly to hers.

This was a reference to the controversy earlier this month after she suggested Enda Kenny should clarify the timeframe for when he would step aside as Fine Gael leader and Taoiseach.

Ms Doherty said she was a “loyal supporter” of Mr Kenny and, in her role as Chief Whip, was “the woman who has his back in Leinster House”.

Political shift

Meanwhile, Dr Theresa Reidy, of the University College Cork department of government, said that, ideologically, Irish people were broadly centrist, but on polarising issues such as abortion there had been a shift from the conservative to the liberal.

She said that since the 1970s the older, established parties have been losing their grip on Irish politics, with the total vote of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil slip below 50 per cent for the first time in the most recent general election.

The growth of parties such as Sinn Féin, the Anti-Austerity Alliance-People Before Profit and the Social Democrats showed that Irish politics was “fragmenting”, she said.

“The old parties are seeing their hold on the political system beginning to decline,” said Dr Reidy.

“It is not a blip, it is something much more serious than that.”