McDonald succeeds Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein president

Howard TerryFeb 11, 2018

After nearly 35 years, Gerry Adams will officially step down as party leader today - a role he has held since November 1983.

The party's leader in Northern Ireland, Michelle O'Neill, will also be elected as Sinn Féin vice president.

The Sinn Fein leader, who will step down tomorrow after three-and-a-half decades at the forefront of Irish politics, said it was important not to inextricably link Brexit with Irish unification. "On other things, we can agree to disagree". But its association with the Troubles has prevented it from gaining more popularity among voters, reports the AP.

Around 2,000 delegates are expected to gather at the conference for the ratification of Mrs McDonald as the next party president.

Sinn Fein has shared power in the British province of Northern Ireland since 2007 and is in talks to restore devolved government there, but it has never governed in the Republic where it has established itself as the third largest party.

McDonald immediately put her own stamp on the future, trying to infuse new energy into the movement that has lawmakers on both sides of the Irish border.

She said her leadership would mark a defining chapter in the achievement of a United Ireland.

The region has been without an executive and sitting assembly for more than a year since Sinn Fein withdrew from the power-sharing government, saying it was not being treated as an equal partner by the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party.

She began her tenure with a first speech as leader on Saturday vowing to work towards Irish unity "in our time" while noting "there is no value in re-fighting the battles of the past".

McDonald also laid out her positions on the key issues of the day.

She was the only person nominated to take over the top job in the all-Ireland party.

Mr Adams said Brexit posed huge economic and social problems for Ireland, but also highlighted the push for the reunification of the island, which was partitioned in 1922.

She worked in consultancy and research and was a member of the centre-right Fianna Fail party before leaving in 1998. I want to see ministerial led government restored to Northern Ireland.

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