Gerry Adams intends to lead Sinn Féin into next election

Party has signalled a willingness to be a junior partner in any future government

Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams and his delegation speak with members of the media after meeting  Leo Varadkar in south Belfast. Photograph: AFP/ Paul Faith/Getty

Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams and his delegation speak with members of the media after meeting Leo Varadkar in south Belfast. Photograph: AFP/ Paul Faith/Getty

 

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has said he intends to lead the party into the next general election in the Republic.

Amid ongoing speculation over when he will step down, Mr Adams (68) said: “It is my intention as I stand here to lead Sinn Fein into the next election.

Sinn Féin has signalled a willingness to be a junior partner in any future government after the next poll, rather than striking its own confidence and supply deal with a new administration.

This marks a change of tone from the party’s previous insistence it would only enter government as the lead party.

Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald articulated the party’s position in The Irish Times on Friday.

She rejected the prospect of the party supporting a minority government from the sidelines after the next general election and said it wanted to be a full member of a coalition administration.

Ms McDonald was also highly critical of the current confidence-and-supply arrangement, which she described as designed to entirely suit Fianna Fáil.

After meeting Taoiseach Leo Varadkar for talks in Belfast, Louth TD Mr Adams was asked whether the fact that Ms McDonald had outlined the Sinn Féin attitude to coalition suggested she would be the one leading the party into the next campaign.

Party position

Mr Adams rejected that theory. “What Mary Lou did was spell out our position and it accurately reflects the Sinn Féin view that, if we get a mandate in the next election, the general election in the south, to be in government, then we will seek to negotiate a programme for government and bring that forward to an Ard Fheis for endorsement if there’s agreement about it,” he said.

“It’s also clear for anyone who has eyes to see that the current arrangements in Leinster House don’t work for the homeless, don’t work for people who are stressed out with mortgages and other difficulties, and don’t work for patients who can’t get proper health services.

“It only works for Fine Gael and especially Fianna Fail, and it is my intention, as I stand here, to lead Sinn Féin into the next election.”

Mr Adams led senior Sinn Fein politicians, Conor Murphy and Caral Ni Chuilin in talks with Mr Varadkar that he described as “productive”.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood, after meeting Mr Varadkar, welcomed the “reassurance that the Government would continue to work to ensure that there would be no hard border, economic or physical on this Island”.

“The Taoiseach must now engage much more directly in the talks process and assert the Irish Government’s influence as co-guarantors of the Good Friday Agreement to break the political stalemate to restore power sharing and stability,” he added.

Alliance Leader Naomi Long, after her meeting, said the debate on Brexit must be “decoupled” from the debate on Irish unity. “While everyone is perfectly entitled to pursue their constitutional aspirations, it is important to keep the two issues separate,” she said.

- Additional reporting PA