Sunday 22 July 2018

McDonald confirms candidacy to follow Adams as SF's leader

Mary Lou McDonald was confirmed as the Sinn Féin candidate in Dublin Central at a selection convention last night. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Mary Lou McDonald was confirmed as the Sinn Féin candidate in Dublin Central at a selection convention last night. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Ryan Nugent

Sinn Féin's deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, has confirmed that she will now seek the party presidency, following the decision by Gerry Adams to step down from the role.

In a speech to supporters in Dublin Central during the party's selection convention, Ms McDonald said: "Over the coming period, I will ask Sinn Féin members to back me as their new leader."

Ms McDonald's announcement at the Gresham Hotel last night did not come as a surprise after a number of other potential candidates ruled themselves out in recent weeks.

Sinn Féin's finance spokesperson, Pearse Doherty, and its leader in the North, Michelle O'Neill, both said they would not be seeking the position.

"Plans for a change of party leader were set out at our recent ard fheis and again on Saturday by our party's ard comhairle," Ms McDonald said.

She continued: "Gerry is standing down and the process to elect a new leader is now under way.

"This evening, I wish to formally confirm that I will seek nomination for election to the position of Uachtarán Shinn Féin.

"The leader of Sinn Féin will be elected at a special ard fheis, by vote of our membership - an open democratic process, with no coronations or anointments involved.

"I will set out my vision, plans and priorities for our party. I will listen too," she added.

The Dublin TD received a standing ovation from supporters following her announcement.

Mr Adams announced his decision to step down shortly after being elected party president for the 35th year in succession.

He also said that he would not be seeking re-election to Dáil Éireann when the next general election is called.

Ms McDonald was the only Sinn Féin candidate for the Dublin Central constituency, with the convention a formality once her name had been put forward by a supporter.

The TD alluded to recent bullying allegations that have dogged the party and called for her party's members to stick together.

"Ensuring a respectful, friendly atmosphere in our party is very important," Ms McDonald said.

"Where relationships break down or rivalries take hold, where disciplinary issues emerge, it is important that we remember why we each joined Sinn Féin, what we are about as republicans, that we put front and centre our political ambition for a united, equal Ireland.

"It is also important that the rules of the party are respected by every member of our party and that they are applied fairly," she added.

On Sunday, Galway councillor Gabe Cronnelly announced he was resigning from the party.

He said in a statement that he would be stepping down from the party "due to ongoing unrest around the way the party is dealing with unethical behaviour".

The resignation came days after Senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh also left the party.

"I am awfully disappointed at the way Sinn Féin leadership have refused to address the concerns of so many decent members here in Galway, in relation to unacceptable behaviour by a small group of people," he said.

"It is very hard to have faith in a party which preaches one thing publicly, but fails to live up to true republican ideals itself.

"Sinn Féin has a constitution and a code of ethics which are great documents on paper, but when it comes to calling people to account who are treating others in an unprofessional manner, the rule book goes out the window," he added.

Irish Independent

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