Monday 19 February 2018

Gerry Adams 'ready to make way for Mary Lou McDonald as Sinn Fein chief'

Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Tom Burke
Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Tom Burke Newsdesk

Gerry Adams is prepared to hand over the leadership of Sinn Fein to Mary-Lou McDonald at its the party's next ard fheis, it has been reported.

The Sunday Times reported that senior TDs in the republican party foresee a seamless transition from the former West Belfast MP to his deputy in October or November.

"Gerry has been clear, this is a part in transition and he's got a timescale in his head," a party official told the newspaper.

"That is not a consideration for us in the timing of the ard fheis. The problem is that, every time we go to look at it, there is an election on the horizon."

Mr Adams (68) has been President of Sinn Fein since 1983, and there has been much speculation over when he would stand down.

If Dublin TD Ms McDonald were to succeed Mr Adams, it has been suggested that the vacancy for Deputy Leader could be taken by Donegal TD Pearse Doherty or Sinn Fein's Stormont leader, Michelle O'Neill.

Other Sinn Fein sources told the Sunday Times that the death of former Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness earlier this year could mean Mr Adams staying on to see through changes in the party.

Read More: Mary Lou's tribute to 'respected' colleague

Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein
Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness of Sinn Fein

The generational shift in the party has been seen in some of the candidates selected for the general election.

Republican veterans such as Gerry Kelly in North Belfast and Pat Doherty in West Tyrone have stood aside for candidates with no associations with the IRA - John Finucane and Barry McElduff respectively.

In Derry, Councillor Elisha McCallion is the Westminster candidate in the late Martin McGuinness' home turf.

Meanwhile, Mr Adams last night hit out at Arlene Foster, warning that "DUP support for Brexit is ignoring the potentially disastrous impact it will have on the economy of the North".

He was responding to Mrs Foster, whose party campaigned for Leave in the referendum, after she told an audience in Derry that she was aware of people's concerns around Brexit.

"The United Kingdom's departure from the European Union inevitably brings with it an element of uncertainty," she said.

Mr Adams said that was "the understatement of 2017".

"The DUP leader is ignoring the mounting economic evidence that Brexit will have a significant and detrimental impact on jobs, our economy, especially along the border region, and in the agriculture and agri-food sectors."

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster

Read More: Sinn Fein could lose its image as the ethnic nationalist party

Mrs Foster had also said that a border poll would be destabilising at a time when stability is required. Mr Adams retorted: "You can't claim, as Arlene Foster does, to be confident in the outcome of a border poll for the pro-union position and then deny citizens the opportunity to make a choice.

"If Mrs Foster is so certain of the pro-union position then let the people have their say."

He also dismissed Mrs Foster's willingness to re-enter power sharing immediately as "electoral spin".

Belfast Telegraph

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