McDonald's ascension to Sinn Féin top job next month to be unopposed
Mary Lou McDonald is widely expected to take over from Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams unopposed after the deadline for other candidates to put their names forward expired.
Sinn Féin last night refused to say if there will be any opposition to Ms McDonald when the party selects its new president at a special Ard Fheis next month.
A party statement last night said the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle will meet in Belfast today "to discuss the outcome of the nomination process".
Dublin Central TD Ms McDonald (right) 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.