Gerry Adams has said he “made a mistake” when he suggested he may quit as party leader before the next election.
Mr Adams had been asked yesterday on Newstalk Radio if he expected to lead Sinn Féin into the next general election. He replied that it all depended when the next election would be held.
But by today he was telling a different story, when again asked the same question.
“I made a mistake – I will lead the party into the next general election,” he told reporters at Leinster House.
Mr Adams, who is aged 67 and has led Sinn Féin since 1983, said he had no idea how long the current minority coalition would last.
“I don’t know. Sometimes a government not expected to last can last much longer than expected,” he said.
But he insisted that it must not be allowed go a full five-year term. He again accused Fianna Fáil of “playing for time” in abstaining to allow the current arrangement to take office.
Mr Adams was announcing his new front bench team who will “mark” the incoming government ministers.
He brushed aside suggestions that the new line-up is an effective demotion for senior party members, especially Mary-Lou McDonald and Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin.
Ms McDonald moves from speaking on jobs and enterprise to be spokesperson on mental health and suicide prevention. Mr Ó Caoláin moves from health to disability and older people.
The Sinn Féin president said the party was going for a new approach giving responsibility to all 23 TDs and seven senators with a “cluster” of spokespeople to cover each ministerial department.
Several newcomers are given prominence. These include Louise O’Reilly (health); Carol Nolan (education); and David Cullinane (public spending).