Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams last night crowned failed European candidate Mary Lou McDonald as the party leader in the Republic.
In an embarrassing snub to Caomhghin O Caolain, the Sinn Fein leader in the Dail, Mr Adams admitted that the party had leadership problems in the south but said that Mary Lou McDonald was the boss, despite her not having any mandate from the electorate.
Mr Adams conceded that his base in Belfast was an issue in his leadership because he was unable to spend enough time in Dublin and was not a member of the Dail.
“Of course it's an issue, that's why we're looking to build a southern-based leadership,” he said.
“Quite frankly, it is difficult to keep the DUP in the partnership arrangement in the north. Mary Lou (McDonald) is the leader in the south, she's the vice-president.”
It was an apparently contradictory statement from the leader of a party which has always insisted that it is an all-Ireland entity.
But Mr Adams said that there was no question about his own position within the party after 25 years at the helm and he does not plan to step down.
He was speaking ahead of a meeting of Sinn Fein bosses and activists on Monday to examine the party's future in Irish politics.