Sinn Féin plans to elect new leader before end of February

Party expects election to be held next year and wants successor to Gerry Adams in place

 Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams with the party’s Northern Ireland leader  Michelle O’Neill and party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams with the party’s Northern Ireland leader Michelle O’Neill and party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw.

 

Sinn Féin is planning to select a new leader to replace Gerry Adams by the end of February.

Senior members of the party gathered in Dublin on Saturday to discuss plans for a special meeting at which a successor will be elected.

Dublin Central TD and party deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has emerged as the firm favourite to replace him.

“The election of a new party president comes at a time of great challenges and opportunities for the Irish people as a new political landscape begins to unfold in front of us,” Sinn Féin chairman Declan Kearney MLA said.

“The events of the past week exposed for all to see the deep flaws which lie at the heart of the political marriage between Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin. It is likely there will be a general election in 2018.”

Mr Adams announced his intention to step aside after more than 30 years leading Sinn Féin in his speech at the party’s ardfheis last month.

Next generation

He told members now was the time for the next generation of leaders to come forward, and that required him to stand aside.

“I firmly believe that one person can make a difference,” he said. “The first step in making a difference is believing that you can be that person…One woman, one man, doing their best. That’s what it takes. You don’t have to do as much as Martin McGuinness did, but we all have to do our best, and we have to do it together. That is the key to our successes so far.”

Mr Kearney said the next party leader would take over the “only all-Ireland political party” and that Sinn Féin was “uniquely placed to meet the challenges and resist Tory attempts deliver a hard Brexit and a hard border”.

“We also remain committed to seeing a restoration of the Good Friday agreement political institutions on the basis envisaged in that and subsequent agreements.”