Published: Sun, January 21, 2018
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Mary Lou McDonald to succeed Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein leader

Mary Lou McDonald to succeed Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein leader

"The truth is, and so many of you have said to me quite correctly "you have very big shoes to fill".

McDonald presents a fresh face for the party and has no historic links to the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the now-defunct paramilitary wing of Sinn Fein responsible for more than 1,700 deaths during the conflict known as the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Féin's ard comhairle will meet in Belfast today as part of preparations for the ard fheis, where they will also formally ratify the nominee for president and are expected to discuss whether to open nominations for vice-president. So I will fill my shoes.

McDonald, who's now deputy leader, has been a member of the lower house of the Irish parliament since 2011.

Adams, 69, announced in November he was stepping down as the party's leader after 34 years. "I won't fill Gerry's shoes - the news is I've brought my own".

"Little was I to know at that time that I would come to know and work so closely with Gerry and the entire leadership and to have him as such a close friend", she said.

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Ms McDonald said the party will aim to convince unionists that a United Ireland is the best way forward for everyone.

"We need to campaign for this", he said.

"For us in Sinn Fein in the time ahead, we have to grow our party, not just our mandate but also our capacities. It's very achievable. We can do it", he added.

In Belfast, Mr Adams, the Sinn Fein party president for three decades, said: 'We need to have a party that's fit for objective, we need to have a plan.

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.

He said Ms McDonald was the "ideal candidate" to "lead Sinn Fein into the future".

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