No one can fill Adams' shoes, says new Sinn Fein chief

Joy Montgomery
January 22, 2018

Mary Lou McDonald is set to become the president of Sinn Fein, replacing Gerry Adams who is stepping down after 34 years as the dominant figurehead of Irish republicanism.

The change represents a major shift for Sinn Fein, so closely associated with Adams' leadership, which started in November 1983.

Sinn Fein has shared power in Northern Ireland since 2007 and is in negotiations to try to restore the devolved executive there but it has never governed in the south.

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

McDonald said today: "We have to grow our party, modernise and be fit for goal, but we always hold true to our vision".

The Dublin Central TD was the only person to put her name forward for the role as party' leader before nominations closed on Friday.

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Mrs McDonald called on supporters at Sinn Fein's AGM to "build our new Ireland", and a special party conference to ratify a new leader will be held on 10 February.

Several party members took to Twitter to express their support for Ms McDonald.

Sky News Ireland Correspondent David Blevins said the change in leadership was "significant", adding that Mrs McDonald is the first woman to lead Sinn Fein and comes from a middle class background.

Fiachra McGuinness, son of the late Martin McGuinness, tweeted a video message declaring he was "proud and honoured" to endorse Ms McDonald.

She will take over from Gerry Adams.

He said his father was a "huge admirer of her ideas, dedication and commitment", and that she was the "ideal candidate to lead Sinn Fein into the future". Mr Adams said his deputy would enter the fray at a "very polarised and very toxic" time in Irish politics but said that there was "no merit" in disengaging from talks with unionists.

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