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Mary Lou McDonald has been confirmed as the new leader of Sinn Féin

Gerry Adams will be stepping aside from his role after more than 30 years.

Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

IT HAS BEEN announced that Mary Lou McDonald will take over from Gerry Adams as Sinn Féin leader.

Gerry Adams will be stepping aside from his role after more than 30 years at the helm of the party.

McDonald was the only party member to be nominated for the position as no other candidate put their name forward as last night’s deadline approached. She will be formally ratified at the party’s Ard Fhéis on 10 February.

The announcement was made at the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle in Belfast this morning.

Speaking at the event this morning, McDonald said: “I won’t fill Gerry Adam’s shoes but I’ve brought my own and together we will walk a journey that is full of opportunities, full of challenges, but I believe which marks a defining chapter in our achievement in a United Ireland and the ending of partition.

“That’s not a pipe dream, that’s not empty rhetoric, that is the road we are on. This isn’t uniquely a project for republicans or nationalists, I believe that Irish unity is the best solution, the best collection arrangement for all our people, including our unionist brothers and sisters.”

“Irish unity is the best solution for this island and we will work to convince our unionist friends and neighbours of that,” McDonald said.

As we enter a new era we look ahead with confidence, to government in the North built on equality and integrity, and in government in the South based on our republican ideals.
It’s our task duty and responsibility to make a new Ireland, together, united and strong.

McDonald, current deputy leader of the party, has been something of an unbackable odd-on favourite for the position in recent weeks.

In his speech, Gerry Adams said that his decision to step down “is part of Sinn Féin’s ten-year plan for the regeneration and renewal of the party”.

Adams also used his platform at this morning’s event to outline that Sinn Féin wants to see an end to the stalemate at Stormont. 

“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,” Adams said.

“We have to challenge ourselves and our support base. We have to challenge unionism.”

The republican party, McDonald included, has had a rough number of weeks in the media, after Westminister MP for west Tyrone Barry McElduff posted a video of himself with a packet of Kingsmill bread on his head to Twitter on Friday, the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre of 10 Protestant workmen at Kingsmill, Co Armagh.

McElduff has claimed that the posting was a coincidence. His actions have been roundly criticised, particularly in unionist circles.

McDonald denied that the party’s credibility has been damaged by the controversy.

Read: Mary Lou says Kingsmill video hasn’t damaged Sinn Féin’s credibility

More: Nominations for a new Sinn Féin leader open today

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