Gerry Adams is endorsed for Taoiseach post with IRA's blessing
A former IRA commander and an on-the-run terror suspect are among the senior Sinn Fein figures who dictated the party's position on nominations for Taoiseach.
The Sinn Fein ard chomhairle, the party's ruling body, last night formally endorsed party leader Gerry Adams as a nominee ahead of Thursday's vote in the Dail.
On Saturday ard chomhairle member and newly-elected TD Eoin O Broin - a former Belfast councillor - admitted that Sinn Fein "don't have a parliamentary party" and that key decisions were made by the ard chomhairle.
Sinn Fein did not respond to a request for details of the membership of the 19-strong body, but it is understood to be made up of several former IRA members. These include Sean 'Spike' Murray, who spent 12 years in jail.
Murray, a former IRA commander, was pictured in May carrying the coffin of Gerard 'Jock' Davison, a well-known republican who was gunned down in Belfast.
Last year the PSNI launched an investigation into claims Murray smuggled 200 handguns from Florida into Northern Ireland after the IRA ceasefire.
The ard chomhairle's membership also includes Rita O'Hare, wanted in the UK as part of an investigation into the attempted murder of a British soldier.
Ms O'Hare, who plays a leading role in the party's massive US fundraising arm, served three years in Limerick Prison for attempting to smuggle explosives to IRA prisoners in Portlaoise.
Other ard chomhairle members include MLAs Conor Murphy and Jennifer McCann, who both served time in prison for IRA offences. Among the non-elected members of the ard chomhairle are party chairman Declan Kearney, general secretary Dawn Doyle, director of publicity Sean MacBradaigh and Joanne Spain, the party's economics adviser and confidante of Mr Adams.
The ard chomhairle's other members are Mr Adams, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, MLAs Alex Maskey and Caitriona Ruane, newly elected TD Maurice Quinlivan, senator Kathryn Reilly and councillors Daithi Doolan and Rose Conway-Walsh, as well as party member Noeleen McPoilin.