Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams to address future plans at Sinn Fein party meeting in November

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said he will announce plans for his future when the party grassroots meets in November.

Mr Adams, who has led the republican party since the early 1980s, had already said he wanted to remain at the helm for the next general election in the Irish Republic.

But at a meeting of Sinn Fein representatives ahead of the Dail resuming, the 68-year-old said the party has a 10-year plan which included an "orderly leadership change".

The strategy was first mooted last year and work on it began before Martin McGuinness died earlier this year.

"This has been the focus of much internal discussion for the last year," Mr Adams said.

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

Sinn Fein's deputy president, Mary Lou McDonald, has made no secret of her desire to succeed Mr Adams - a scenario that would give the party female leaders on both sides of the border.

Mr Adams said if he was successfully elected president of the party he would s et out priorities and a "planned process of generational change, including my own future intentions".

The elected representatives at the meeting in the City Hotel in Co Meath also heard some of Sinn Fein's priorities for the next Dail term and the next election.

On Brexit Mr Adams said t he Irish government has a responsibility to defend Northern Ireland voters' wish to remain in Europe.

He said the UK Government's papers on leaving t he customs union will cost jobs, and undermine the economies in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

"It is also time for the Irish government to accept that the best protection for the island of Ireland in any post Brexit arrangement is for the North to be designated special status within the EU," he said.

Mr Adams said a referendum on a united Ireland in the next five years is " achievable and winnable" and should be government policy in the Republic.

He said: "In the North, both the DUP and the British Government continue to refuse to agree that the Executive and the Assembly be restored on on the basis of equality, respect and integrity for all.

"They also disrespect and ignore the vote of people in the north in the Brexit referendum and are insisting on dragging the North out of the EU against the wishes of the electorate."

"In fact, the DUP have torn up propositions being developed with Sinn Fein and others on Brexit in favour of the Tory government's little Englander approach."

On power-sharing in Stormont, Mr Adams said: " The political institutions can only work if they are based on equality, respect and integrity."

He added DUP leader Arlene Foster's proposal to revive the institutions was " a non-runner" but he welcomed the unionists leader's assertion that "the Irish language threatens no one".

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

"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."

Mr Adams attacked the record on health and housing by the Government in the Republic.

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