McDonald to become Sinn Fein President on February 10th

McDonald to become Sinn Fein President on February 10th

Ronald Pratt
January 22, 2018

After almost 35 years at the head of the Irish republican party, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams is set to be replaced by his deputy, Mary Lou McDonald, in party elections next month.

"That is not a pipe dream, that is not empty rhetoric, that is the road we are on".

McDonald, an English literature graduate from Trinity College Dublin who has been at the forefront of a new breed of Sinn Fein politicians softening the party's image was the only Sinn Fein lawmaker to put her name forward for the leadership ahead of a special convention next month.

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.

"We need a party that thinks and acts strategically...that builds alliances with other of like mind".

Nicknamed "Marmite Mary" because she divides opinion sharply, Ms McDonald is the TD (member of the Irish Parliament) for Dublin Central and began her political life as a member of Fianna Fail, one of Ireland's two mainstream political parties. "It's very achievable. We can do it".

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Mr Adams, a pivotal figure in the political life of Ireland for nearly 50 years, announced he would step down as leader of the former political wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) last November after more than three decades in charge.

I am proud and honoured to be nominated for Uachtarán Shinn Féin.

He described politics in Northern Ireland as "very polarised and very toxic".

Speaking at Sinn Fein's ard comhairle (high council) on Saturday, the outgoing party leader said there will always be "political tension between unionism and republicanism", but that it should be managed in a "responsible, respectful way".

Several rounds of talks aimed at ending the political stalemate ended without agreement. We also have to challenge unionism.

In Belfast, Mr Adams said: "We need to have a party that's fit for goal, we need to have a plan. That will benefit all sections of our people".