Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams to outline timetable for stepping down as Sinn Fein president

By Jonathan Bell

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said his future as leader of the party will be outlined at its Ard Fheis in November.

The Louth TD said he intended to put forward his name to be elected as president once again at the event.

"And if elected I will be setting out our priorities and in particular our planned process of generational change, including my own future intentions," he said in a speech at a party away day conference."

There was no mention of a timeframe for him to eventually step down.

<<<Read the full speech>>>

Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness have in the past said they were working on the party's plans for the next 10 years.

"It is about preparing the party for the next ten years and to ensure that we are better able to achieve our strategic objectives," he continued.

"At this event in this venue last year Martin McGuinness made it clear that we had a plan for orderly leadership change.

"None of us knew that Martin would become terminally ill and that we would meet this year without him.

"We don’t have time to reflect on these mysteries of life and death this morning or on the loss of such a wonderful comrade and leader."

On the "crisis in the North" as he puts it, Mr Adams restated his position from last week that the party will not re-enter government at Stormont unless there is an Irish language act.

"Contrary to the bogus argument being put by some it is self-evident that Sinn Fein is fully committed to the power sharing institutions agreed in the Good Friday Agreement," he said.

"In the face of disrespect and inequality and an absence of integrity by some; the failure to implement previous agreements, and the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, Martin took the right decision and resigned.

"His stand was vindicated in the Assembly and Westminster elections."

Both the DUP and the British government continue to refuse to agree that the Executive and the Assembly be restored on the basis of equality, respect and integrity for all.

He said Arlene Foster's offer for a parallel process to resurrect the Executive alongside a proposal to bring in an Irish language act was a "non-runner".

"And she knew this.

"But it did contain a welcome acknowledgement that the Irish language threatens no one.

"I’m sure the crocodiles are delighted to hear that.

"And it did include a promise of legislation. This is welcome also."

He added: "But more than soft words are required.

"Michelle O’Neill has called for a short time-framed period of exploratory talks to determine whether progress is possible or not.

"If the DUP is serious let them engage in that process.

"But so there is no ambiguity let me repeat what I said last week.

"There will be no return to the Assembly or Executive without a stand-alone Irish Language Act and agreement on the resolution of other outstanding issues."

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