Martin says SF still puts Provisionals first as Adams to quit next year
Gerry Adams will step down as Sinn Fein president next year after more than three decades as leader, he told the party's Ard Fheis last night.
Mr Adams's decision to stand aside as party leader next year is a significant u-turn on his previous commitment to lead Sinn Fein into the next election.
The move throws Sinn Fein into uncertainty at a time when the party is struggling in the opinion polls.
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin has dismissed the significance of Mr Adams's intention to step down, stating that the Sinn Fein party has "always been about putting the Provisional movement first".
Speaking in Dublin last night, Mr Martin said Mr Adams's announcement will be followed by "overblown commentary" about how important this was as a political moment and speculation about how this might mark a major turning point. "This is simply not true," he said.
Mr Martin also rounded on potential successors, saying there were "no new faces" in Sinn Fein.
He added: "The party is much more than the person, and the party remains as unreformed and as unsuitable for government as ever."
He said: "They will change their leader but the core of the Provisional movement's approach to politics remains and has been constantly reaffirmed by all of their prospective leaders."
Mr Martin said potential successors, including Sinn Fein vice-president Mary Lou McDonald, have remained loyal to the republican movement in spite of revelations of criminality, sex abuse and bullying allegations.