Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams: West Belfast people agree that it's time for change of Sinn Fein leadership

By Kate Buck

Gerry Adams yesterday said he has already "dealt with the question" of releasing details about those murdered by the IRA after announcing his retirement as president of the Sinn Fein.

It comes after a series of families who lost loved ones to IRA violence called on Mr Adams to "come clean" before he steps down as Sinn Fein leader.

As he returned to his old West Belfast constituency yesterday, Mr Adams was asked by the Belfast Telegraph if he would now tell the families what they need to hear before he retires.

"I've already dealt with that question," he said.

But he did not make clear how he had dealt with the matter and was driven away from Sinn Fein's Falls Road headquarters before making any further clarification.

The emerging favourite to replace Adams as leader is Dublin-based Mary Lou McDonald, who is currently the deputy leader.

Pearse Doherty, the party's finance spokesman, has ruled himself out, telling RTE that he had a young family and that it was not the right move at this time.

And the party's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill also ruled herself out of the running.

Although well-known in the Republic, Ms McDonald has a much smaller profile in Northern Ireland.

However, people in west Belfast yesterday had no difficulty recognising the 48-year-old. All were positive about the contribution Ms McDonald could make to the party as its president.

Barry Johnston (32), a community worker, said: "I think she will be a good leader because they need more female leaders. It's time for him to move on before he's pushed, if you know what I mean."

Anthony McLaughlin (59) said: "If Gerry Adams said in his statement that good leaders know when to go, then obviously he felt it was his time to go.

"I would tend to agree with him, I think you do need new faces in the party."

Mr McLaughlin said that he doesn't think that a new leader would mean a greater party focus on the Republic.

"I suppose its like everything else when there's a change, so if you look at that change it means new ideas and new initiative. It's a good thing," he said.

Anne Cusack (50), a civil servant, said that she doesn't side with any party but thinks that while Mr Adams has been a good leader, Ms McDonald is more of an unknown quantity.

She said: "I think he (Gerry Adams) was brilliant at answering questions, he was superb, and no matter what they asked him on TV he was able to give a good answer.

"He gives very concise answers and can anticipate questions. They know what's in people's minds and they anticipate what they're going to be asked.

"I think he was good to the people and Sinn Fein are good at getting things done.

"I'm not saying I support them, but if people are looking for a house, Sinn Fein is right at the front. They seem to do a lot for the people but it's sort of two tribes and the SDLP won't get a look in. I think Mary Lou will be good too, although I haven't read much about her. I hope the best man or woman wins.

"I'm not saying they're not good leaders because I'm sure Mary Lou McDonald will probably be a good leader and Gerry Adams was a good leader, but at the end of the day where's the ordinary man on the street?"

Belfast Telegraph

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