Mary Lou McDonald will seek position of Sinn Féin president

Dublin Central TD said election could happen ‘at any time so we must be prepared’

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said  the party would fight the next election to maximise its vote, its mandate and its numbers of TDs and senators. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the party would fight the next election to maximise its vote, its mandate and its numbers of TDs and senators. File photograph: Nick Bradshaw/The Irish Times

 

Mary Lou McDonald has confirmed she will seek nomination for the position of president of Sinn Féin.

At a party selection convention in her Dublin Central constituency on Monday night, the deputy leader said the new head of the party would be elected at a special ard fheis, by vote of the membership, in an “open, democratic process”.

Paying tribute to outgoing president Gerry Adams, Ms McDonald said he was “unique, exceptional, inspirational”.

More than any other Gerry Adams had driven the growth and success of Sinn Féin and republican politics across Ireland, she said.

Commenting on the recent political crisis in which a Christmas election was averted, Ms McDonald said an election could happen “at any time so we must be prepared”.

She said the “so-called new politics of Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil has been exposed as a cosy arrangement between two parties who believe that they and they alone have the right to govern, to decide, to run things”.

She said the confidence and supply arrangement in government was “only ever a manoeuvre to occupy both government and opposition benches, to frustrate the voice of genuine new politics, to stop the advance of Sinn Féin”.

The convention heard criticism of Government policy on homelessness, on childcare and on policing.

Ms McDonald said a “progressive republican government” was needed, which was not for self-advancement or government “at any cost”.

She said the party would fight the next election to maximise its vote, its mandate and its numbers of TDs and senators.

Ms McDonald was the only candidate for selection for the constituency on Monday night and she accepted the nomination after she was proposed from the floor.

In her speech, Ms McDonald noted the party had grown “substantially” in a very short period of time. She said this had brought great “energy and positivity to our politics”. While she did not mention recent resignations from the party, she acknowledged this growth had also brought challenges.

The resignation of Galway county councillor Gabriel Cronnelly came at the weekend just days after a Galway Senator Trevor Ó’Clochartaigh also quit amid allegations of inappropriate behaviour.

Councillors have also resigned or been expelled in Tipperary, Limerick, Cavan, Westmeath, Kilkenny, Kildare and Wicklow.

“Ensuring a respectful, friendly atmosphere in our party is very important,” Ms McDonald said.

“Where relationships break down or rivalries take hold, where disciplinary issues emerge it is important that we remember why we each joined Sinn Féin, what we are about as republicans, that we put front and centre our political ambition for a united, equal Ireland,” she added.

“It is also important that the rules of the party are respected by every member of our party and that they are applied fairly.”