SF expected to confirm Mary Lou McDonald as sole nominee for president

Next Sinn Féin leader will be ratified at special ardfheis scheduled for February 10th

 Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill:  Sinn Féin’s deputy leader  is expected to be confirmed as the sole nominee for the position of Sinn Féin leader today. Photograph:  Alan Betson

Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill: Sinn Féin’s deputy leader is expected to be confirmed as the sole nominee for the position of Sinn Féin leader today. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Dublin Central TD Mary Lou McDonald is expected to be confirmed as the sole nominee for the position of Sinn Féin leader on Saturday.

Nominations for the position closed at 5pm on Friday but the party declined to state if anyone else was in the running to succeed Gerry Adams, who is standing aside after 34 years in the role.

The party’s ard comhairle will meet in Belfast on Saturday and the outcome of the leadership process will be announced afterwards. The next party president will be ratified at a special ardfheis scheduled for February 10th.

The ard comhairle meeting will also agree a process to fill the position of deputy leader of Sinn Féin, which would fall vacant if Ms McDonald is promoted.

Nominations will open for a period of 10 days and members will be asked to seek support for the role.

Party figures are hopeful the selection of a deputy leader can also take place at the special ardfheis. However, this will be dependant on the candidates who put their name forward for the position and whether a contest is required.

Preference

Several party figures have indicated a preference for the deputy leader to be from Northern Ireland.

Candidates could include Sinn Féin’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill, Assembly member Conor Murphy and the party’s finance spokesman, Pearse Doherty TD.

It is also expected the ard comhairle will discuss if a special ardfheis is required to consider its position on the Eighth Amendment.

Delegates at last year’s Sinn Féin ardfheis voted to repeal the Eighth Amendment and support terminations in the cases of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormalities and when the life, health or mental health of a mother is at risk.

However, an Oireachtas committee recommended the removal of the Eighth Amendment and allowing unrestricted access to abortions up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, which goes beyond the party’s position. The potential for a change of stance has been flagged by Sinn Féin’s leadership.

It is understood the party will prepare for an ardfheis in March or April, if the referendum is to be held in May. It is also awaiting the finalisation of a document on the issue of women’s health, which is examining abortion laws in the North and South.

The ard comhairle is assessing whether it should hold another single-issue ard fheis or whether it should bring forward its annual conference.