Gerry Adams to step down as Sinn Fein leader in 2018
Gerry Adams is to step down as leader of Sinn Fein in 2018.
He will not seek re-election to the Dáil when the next general election is called.
Mr Adams revealed the timeline during his speech to around 2,000 party members at their Ard Fheis in the RDS.
Earlier delegates passed a motion that would require an “extraordinary Ard Fheis to be summoned no more than three months” after a vacancy for President arises.
Mary Lou McDonald is widely tipped to succeed Mr Adams when the time comes.
Mr Adams (69), who was re-elected as President for a 35th year, just minutes before his speech spoke of the need for “generational change”.
He said when it took over as leader in 1983 when “the war in the North was raging”.
Previously he has said that himself and Martin McGuinness had discussed a plan for a co-ordinated passing of the baton.
Mr McGuinness’s departure was hastened by his illness and Mr Adams handpicked Michelle O’Neil to be his replacement as Sinn Féin’s leader in the North.
In his speech Mr Adams took aim at Taoiseach Leo Varadkar, comparing him to the late UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
He said Mrs Thatcher’s “right wing government” had “destroyed lives”.
“Do you recognise the similarities? Her legacy lives on in our Taoiseach,” he said.
At the same time he called on the Taoiseach to stand firm in the Brexit negotiations and use Ireland’s veto to ensure no return to a border between the Republic and the North.
“He needs to be more like Michael Collins and less like Hugh Grant,” he said.
Mr Adams also promised that if Sinn Féin are in government they will hold a referendum on Irish unity within five years.
He was elected a TD for Louth in 2011 after resigning a seat in the British Parliament that he never actually took up.
He has always denied being in the IRA but his political career has been marred in controversy.
In April 2014 he was arrested by detectives investigating the murder of mother-of-10 Jean McConville.
The widow was abducted, shot dead and buried at a Co Louth beach in 1972. Mr Adams was questioned for four days before being released without charge. Sinn Féin made accusations of political policing.
In 2000, Adams found out that his brother Liam had abused his niece Áine over six years but it wasn't until 2007 that the Sinn Féin president engaged with police.
Two years ago, Liam Adams was jailed for 16 years for rape and abuse. The DPP in Northern Ireland carried out a review as to whether Mr Adams should be charged with withholding information, but eventually decided that he should not be prosecuted.
More recently he faced criticism for his reaction to a BBC ‘Spotlight’ programme which told the story of Mairia Cahill.
She described being raped by an IRA figure and subsequently subjected to an IRA kangaroo court. Mr Adams denied such a court was held, and later said “most abuse happens in families”.
Ms Cahill pointed out that her alleged abuser, Martin Morris, was not a blood relative.
Mr Adams was introduced to the stage by Kerry councillor Toiréasa Ferris who said it was the most emotionally charged Ard Fheis.