Adams insists successor will not be anointed behind closed doors

Sinn Féin leader says he will not contest election for President of Ireland

Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams said on Saturday (November 18) he will step down as party leader in 2018.


Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has insisted his successor will not be anointed behind closed doors and a democratic process will take place.

Mr Adams confirmed his departure as president of Sinn Féin at the party’s ardfheis on Saturday night after 34 years at the helm.

Addressing more than 2,500 delegates, the emotional party leader said the time had come for generational change.

He was first elected as party president in 1983 when the “war in the North was raging” and “Republicans were at the heart of a culture of resistance”, Mr Adams added.

He told members now was the time for the next generation of leaders, and that required him to stand aside in 2018.

“I firmly believe that one person can make a difference,” he said. “The first step in making a difference is believing that you can be that person.

“One woman, one man, doing their best. That’s what it takes. You don’t have to do as much as Martin McGuinness did, but we all have to do our best, and we have to do it together. That is the key to our successes so far.

“Doing our best, moving forward, united, strong and together.”

Mr Adams also confirmed he will not seek re-election to the Dáil as a TD for Louth. A special ard chomhairle meeting will take place within two weeks and a date will be set for an extraordinary ardfheis to appoint Mr Adams replacement.

Mr Adams said he hoped he could still play a role in the party but would be guided by the new leadership.

No Áras run

Asked by RTÉ if he would contest any other election on the island of Ireland including the office of President, Mr Adams insisted he would not.

In his address to delegates on Saturday night, Mr Adams reflected on the growth of Sinn Féin over the past three decades.

The party now has 23 TDs, seven Senators, four MEPs, 27 MLAs, seven MPs, and more than 250 councillors.

Sinn Féin wanted to have a fully functional executive in the North and wanted to be in Government in the Republic, Mr Adams stressed.

The party has its opponents in the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil leaderships, and “the Dublin establishment”, he added.

“They know we will bring an end to corruption, cronyism and gombeenism. They know a government with Sinn Féin leading it will be an accountable government.”

Northern impasse

On the ongoing impasse in the executive, Mr Adams criticised political opponents for belittling Sinn Féin’s priorities in the discussions.

The denial of an Irish-language Act and marriage equality would not be tolerated in Dublin or London and should not be accepted in Belfast, he added.

The Democratic Unionist Party’s opposition to these measures has meant there is no executive, Mr Adams told delegates.

“The British government has been complicit in this. Through her pact with the DUP, Theresa May has prioritised her own political survival.”

On the issue of Brexit, Mr Adams called for Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to use Ireland’s veto to ensure the North secures special status within the European Union.

Without it, Irish businesses and farming would suffer, the rights of those in the North would be destroyed and the Belfast Agreement would be undermined, Mr Adams said.

“Leo Varadkar needs to stand up for the interests of all the people of the island. He has a veto. He must use it. He needs to be more like Michael Collins and less like Hugh Grant. ”

In an interview on Sunday, Mr Adams said he would not miss the Dáil, describing it as a “small cosy little club”.

While he said there was “some good work done there”, he claimed it would “fry your head to listen to the nonsense that is talked”.