February 18, 2018

Mary Lou McDonald to replace Gerry Adams as Ireland's Sinn Fein chief

23 January 2018, 02:09 | Marlene Fleming

Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis

Sinn Fein TD Dessie Ellis

At the party's AGM this morning, Mary Lou McDonald will succeed Gerry Adams as the leader of Sinn Féin.

Mr Adams announced in November that he was stepping down as Sinn Fein President after leading the party since 1983.

McDonald, who has been a Teachta Dala (TD) since 2011 now for Dublin Central, was the only person to put her name forward for the role before nominations closed on Friday.

She was originally a member of the Fianna Fáil party before joining Sinn Féin.

"I know I have big shoes to fill taking on the role from Gerry Adams, and I know that is impossible", McDonald said.

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.

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The party was last led by a woman back in 1937, when Margaret Buckley took charge, strengthening the relations between the party and the IRA during her 13-year tenure.

"I want to see Sinn Fein in government north and south", McDonald said.

"We have to challenge ourselves and our support base".

Before being elected to the Dail (Parliament) she made history by becoming Sinn Fein's first MEP in Ireland in 2004. "It is my view that this does not help anyone except a small minority of bigots", he said.

"It is not in the interests of the vast majority of citizens that political parties should retreat to our trenches and hunker down comfortably in the certainty of our respective positions", he said.

She also said: "I believe we are capable of achieving anything that we set our minds to". "Leadership means knowing when it is time for change and that time is now", said the 69-year-old Adams at the time.

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