Mary Lou McDonald confirmed as new leader of Sinn Féin

Michelle O’Neill announces bid for deputy leadership

Mary Lou McDonald has been confirmed as the sole nominee for the position of Sinn Féin president.

Sinn Féin's ard comhairle met in Belfast on Saturday morning to formally ratify the Dublin Central TD as nominee for leader. A special party conference to elect her as leader will be held on February 10th in Dublin.

Ms McDonald will replace Gerry Adams who has led the all-island party since 1983.

"This will be my last speech as Uachtarán Shinn Féin to the Cúige," Mr Adams said in a speech at the Balmoral Hotel in west Belfast. "Nominations for that position closed yesterday. So if you didn't get a nomination and wanted this job it's too late now. Please welcome the president-elect of our party, Mary Lou McDonald."


The party also announced on Sunday that it was opening nominations for the vice-presidency of the party. The party's leader in Stormont, Michelle O'Neill, said last night that she would be a candidate for the position.

No other candidates declared on Sunday, though there was an expectation in some party circles that a contest is likely. The party's MEP Matt Carthy said that he would consider a bid if he received nominations. Another possible contender, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty, could not be reached for comment on Sunday.

Nominations for the post open on Monday for a week.

Stormont impasse

On Saturday, Mr Adams also spoke about the Stormont impasse and how the current polarisation does not suit anyone.

He reiterated Sinn Féin’s commitment to getting devolved government back up and running.

“It is not ok the interests of the vast majority of citizens that political parties should retreat to our trenches and hunker down comfortably in the certainty of our respective positions.

“We have to challenge ourselves and our support base.”

A fresh phase of multiparty talks aimed at restoring Stormont were announcement by the British and Irish governments earlier in the week.

They are set to commence on January 24th.

New era

Speaking after Mr Adams, Ms McDonald said republicanism is entering a new era with confidence as we move closer to Irish unity.

"I am proud and honoured to be nominated for Uachtarán Shinn Féin. I look forward to being ratified at our special Ard Fheis on February 10th.

“I know I have big shoes to fill taking on the role from Gerry Adams and I know that is impossible but I have brought my own shoes and together, with all of the party membership, we will walk on a journey that will lead to Irish unity.

"Uniting this island is the best outcome for all our citizens and it is now our task to convince our unionist friends and neighbours of that and to encourage them to help us build a new Ireland.

“I want to see Sinn Féin in government north and south.

“But it will be government based on equality, respects the rights of citizens, that delivers prosperity and opportunity for all and reflects our republican ideals.

“To do that we need to continue to grow and develop, embracing new ideas while remaining true to our vision,” she added.