Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams won't suggest Sinn Fein heir, but McDonald tipped as front runner

BY Kevin Doyle

GERRY Adams will not be nominating a favoured successor as president of Sinn Fein, although it is widely understood to be Mary Lou McDonald.

The deputy leader looks increasingly likely to have a clear run for the top post as no other contender is emerging from Leinster House.

Former IRA prisoner Conor Murphy is now seen as the only realistic challenger, but he was overlooked for the position of Stormont leader following Martin McGuinness's retirement.

He has not yet categorically ruled himself out, unlike TDs Pearse Doherty and Eoin O Broin.

Ms McDonald's rise will irk some in Sinn Fein, who view her as the non-traditional face of the party, having started out in Fianna Fail and coming from south Dublin. She was educated at a private fee-paying school.

Her ability to deliver electoral success will also come under scrutiny. Ms McDonald failed in two general elections before eventually reaching the Dail in 2011. She also lost her seat as an MEP in 2009.

Asked yesterday whether he believes there should be a contest, Mr Adams replied: "That's a matter for the party."

The 69-year-old told Michael Reade on LMFM radio that he has decided not to comment on whatever contest emerges. "We're quite relaxed about this," he said.

"We have a cadre of young people who can come into the different leadership roles. We have a 10 year plan," he added.

Mr Adams said he is "very close" to the Dublin Central TD.

"I appreciate the work that she does and she's an outstanding candidate, but I don't think it would be fair for me or to Mary Lou or anybody else if I was to go off and give my preference. Let the party decide," he said.

However, Mr Adams added that regardless of the outcome, he won't be disappearing from the political scene.

"I want to stress the point that I am not retiring. I am blessed with decent health and I've a lot to do," he said. Speaking to RTE, Pearse Doherty said now was not the right time for him to lead the party. He described as "ridiculous" claims that he had been told not to run for the position.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday repeated his assertion that Fine Gael will not do business with the new Sinn Fein leader.

He said there was an election last year and his focus is on maintaining the stability of the government and the confidence and supply arrangement.

"I don't anticipate that there's going to be an election next year," he said. "I'm not interested in Sinn Fein or anybody else auditioning to be a coalition partner.

"I'm interested in focusing on the issues like keeping the economy strong, housing, healthcare and Brexit."

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