'I feel an enormous sense of pride' - Mary Lou McDonald is the sole candidate in race for Sinn Féin party president
Mary Lou McDonald has been confirmed as the sole candidate in the race to succeed Sinn Fein party president, Gerry Adams
Mary Lou McDonald is being introduced to Sinn Féin this morning by party leader Gerry Adams as the party's president-elect.
The politician (48) was the only candidate proposed to replace Adams as the deadline for other candidates to put their names forward expired yesterday evening.
"I feel an enormous sense of pride being at this gathering with you," she told the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle this morning.
"I would like to thank all those who nominated me.
"I don't for a moment underestimate the scale on a personal level and on a professional level."
She added; "I never thought come February 10 I would be the boss man!"
McDonald continued; "The truth is, many friends have correctly said to me that I have big shoes to fill, but the truth is no one will ever fill Gerry Adams' shoes."
She is now set to take up the post on February 10.
Dublin Central TD Ms McDonald unfailingly defended outgoing leader Mr Adams during a string of controversies in recent years.
Speaking ahead of the party's last Ard Fheis, she also refused to distance herself from Provisional IRA atrocities.
Ms McDonald's judgment was called into question by political opponents following her response to the controversy caused by former Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff's offensive social media post about the Kingsmill massacre.
Ms McDonald had criticised Mr McElduff but described the three-month suspension handed down by the party as "appropriate and proportionate". Mr McElduff later resigned.
She is set to take over from Mr Adams, after his more than three-decade stint leading Sinn Féin, on February 10. Ms McDonald yesterday shared several social media posts by supporters, including some bearing the hashtag "#ShesThe1".
Maurice Quinlivan, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, Louise O'Reilly and former IRA member Martin Ferris were among TDs publicly expressing support. Ms O'Reilly said Ms McDonald was "a strong republican woman to take us forward" and Mr Ferris used a video posted on Twitter to encourage all party members to support her. Fiachra McGuinness, son of the late deputy first minister Martin McGuinness, also endorsed Ms McDonald.