Belfast Telegraph

Mary Lou McDonald wants to replace Adams as Sinn Fein president

By Ryan Nugent

Sinn Fein's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has confirmed that she will now seek the party presidency, following the decision by Gerry Adams to step down from the role.

In a speech to supporters in Dublin Central during the party's selection convention, Ms McDonald said: "Over the coming period, I will ask Sinn Fein members to back me as their new leader."

Ms McDonald's announcement at the Gresham Hotel last night did not come as a surprise after a number of other potential candidates ruled themselves out in recent weeks.

Sinn Fein's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty and its leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, both said they would not be seeking the position.

"Plans for a change of party leader were set out at our recent ard fheis and again on Saturday by our party's ard comhairle," Ms McDonald said. She continued: "Gerry is standing down and the process to elect a new leader is now under way.

"This evening, I wish to formally confirm that I will seek nomination for election to the position of Uachtaran Shinn Fein.

"The leader of Sinn Fein will be elected at a special ard fheis, by vote of our membership - an open democratic process, with no coronations or anointments involved.

"I will set out my vision, plans and priorities for our party. I will listen too," she added.

The Dublin TD received a standing ovation from supporters following her announcement.

Mr Adams announced his decision to step down shortly after being elected party president for the 35th year in succession.

He also said that he would not be seeking re-election to Dail Eireann when the next general election is called.

Ms McDonald was the only Sinn Fein candidate for the Dublin Central constituency, with the convention a formality once her name had been put forward by a supporter.

The TD alluded to recent bullying allegations that have dogged the party and called for her party's members to stick together. "Ensuring a respectful, friendly atmosphere in our party is very important," Ms McDonald said.

"Where relationships break down or rivalries take hold, where disciplinary issues emerge, it is important that we remember why we each joined Sinn Fein, what we are about as republicans, that we put front and centre our political ambition for a united, equal Ireland."

She added: "It is also important that the rules of the party are respected by every member of our party and that they are applied fairly."

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