Ex-IRA boss one of 19 members of SF ruling body
A former IRA commander and an on-the-run terror suspect are among the senior Sinn Féin figures who can dictate the party's position on nominations for Taoiseach.
The Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle - the party's ruling body - last night deferred a decision to endorse party leader Gerry Adams as a nominee ahead of Thursday's vote in the Dáil.
On Saturday, Ard Chomhairle member and newly elected TD Eoin Ó Broin admitted that Sinn Féin "don't have a parliamentary party" and that key decisions are made by the Ard Chomhairle. While Sinn Féin did not respond to a request for details of the membership of the 19-strong body, it is understood to be made up of several former IRA members.
These include Séan 'Spike' Murray, who spent 12 years in jail for IRA offences.
Murray, a former IRA commander, was pictured in May carrying the coffin of Gerard 'Jock' Davison, a well-known republican figure who was gunned down in West Belfast.
The Ard Chomhairle's membership also includes Rita O'Hare, who remains wanted in the UK as part of an investigation into the attempted murder of a British soldier.
Ms O'Hare, who plays a leading role in the party's massive US fundraising arm, served three years in Limerick Prison after being convicted for attempting to smuggle explosives to IRA prisoners in Portlaoise.
Other members of the party's Ard Chomhairle have IRA pasts and are currently serving members of the Northern Assembly.
These include Conor Murphy and Jennifer McCann, who have both served time in prison for IRA offences.
Among the non-elected members of the Ard Chomhairle are former director of publicity Séan MacBrádaigh and Joanne Spain, the party's former economics adviser as well as being a confidante of Gerry Adams.
The body's membership also includes Mr Adams, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, the MLAs Alex Maskey and Caitríona Ruane, newly elected TD Maurice Quinlivan and Councillors Daithí Doolan and Rose Conway-Walsh, as well as party member Noeleen McPóilín.