Conor Murphy latest MLA to rule himself out of SF leadership race

Six TDs have voiced support for Mary Lou McDonald to replace Gerry Adams

Mary Lou McDonald has not made any public comment on her intentions since Gerry  Adams announced his intention to step down. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

Mary Lou McDonald has not made any public comment on her intentions since Gerry Adams announced his intention to step down. Photograph Nick Bradshaw

 

Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy has confirmed he will not challenge Mary Lou McDonald for the position of party president.

Mr Murphy is the latest senior party figure to opt out of the contest to replace Gerry Adams, who will stand aside next year.

Pearse Doherty, the party’s finance spokesman, and Michelle O’Neill, the leader in the North, will not run either.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Mr Murphy said he would be supporting Ms McDonald for the position.

He said: “The process of change has been well signalled. We have a very good leadership team right across the island meaning we can manage this transition well.

“The loss of Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams leaves a huge hole in the party, but I do not doubt that Mary Lou is up for that challenge.”

Mr Murphy’s declaration of support for Ms McDonald significantly increases the likelihood of her election.

Six TDs have also publicly backed the Dublin Central TD including Dublin Fingal TD Louise O’Reilly, Waterford TD David Cullinane, Laois TD Brian Stanley, Offaly TD Carol Nolan and Carlow-Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion.

Dublin North West TD Dessie Ellis offered his support to Ms McDonald but expressed a preference for a vice-president to be located in Northern Ireland.

North/South balance

Mr Ellis said a balance between North and South at leadership level had served the party well.

“I think Mary Lou has the right personality for the position and she has shown her ability. I do think there should be a person from the North in the role of vice-president.”

Louth TD Imelda Munster insisted that should not be a consideration in the elections. Sinn Féin is an all-island party and the new leadership team will reflect that, she added.

Ms Munster, Wicklow TD John Brady, the Dublin Mid-West TD Eoin Ó Broin, the Cork South-Central TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire and the Dublin South Central TD Aengus Ó Snodaigh declined to be drawn on their preferences.

Mr Adams announced on Saturday night he would not seek re-election as a TD or as Sinn Féin president. The 69 year old said a special ardfheis would be required to appoint his successor.

The date will be decided by the party’s ardchomhairle in the next two weeks. A number of Sinn Féin sources confirmed the party will seek to have Mr Adams’s replacement by April 2018.

Ms McDonald has not made any public comment on her intentions since Mr Adams announced his intentions.

She will travel to Britain today as part of a Sinn Féin delegation, which is meeting British prime minister Theresa May to discuss the ongoing impasse in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, the daughter of Kerry TD Martin Ferris has confirmed she will contest her father’s position.

Toiréasa Ferris is likely to be the only name on the Sinn Féin ticket and may well be unopposed at the party convention in under two weeks to replace her father at the next general election. Ms Ferris has been a councillor since 2003 when co-opted on to her father’s seat on the Kerry County Council.