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Gerry Adams will announce a schedule for Sinn Féin leadership change at the party's Ard Fheis

Adams insisted, however, that he will be leader for the next election.

Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

Updated 4.54 pm

GERRY ADAMS IS to lay out a schedule for the future leadership of Sinn Féin at the party’s Ard Fheis in November.

Adams says that he will make clear his ‘future intentions’ as Sinn Féin leader and said that it will follow a plan for “orderly leadership change” that was devised by the late Martin McGuinness.

Speaking this morning, Adams said he will be seeking a renomination as the party’s president. However if, as expected, he is re-elected he will be examining a handover to the next generation of leadership.

“If elected I will be setting out our priorities and in particular our planned process of generational change, including my own future intentions,” he said.

Adams, who is 69, has been president of Sinn Féin since 1983.

Adams again stated this evening that he intends to lead his party into the next general election in the Republic and said he cannot picture a situation where that will not happen.

Asked whether Sinn Féin could have another leader in the Dáil while he was present, Adams said: “I think not.”

Adams was speaking at the party’s think-in at the City North Hotel in Gormanston, Co Meath.

“At this event in this venue last year Martin McGuinness made it clear that we had a plan for orderly leadership change,” Adams said in an address to open the meeting.

“None of us knew that Martin would become terminally ill and that we would meet this year without him.

“It is our intention to unveil at the Ard Fheis in November the plan that he helped to formulate.”

Sinn Féin is currently finalising a plan for the next ten years which Adams said will “ensure that we are better able to achieve our strategic objectives”.

Separately, Adams stressed that Sinn Féin will not allow the Northern Ireland Assembly to sit again unless there is a plan for an Irish Language Act.

“Michelle O’Neill has called for a short time-framed period of exploratory talks to determine whether progress is possible or not,” he said.

“If the DUP is serious, let them engage in that process. But so there is no ambiguity, let me repeat what I said last week.

“There will be no return to the Assembly or Executive without a stand-alone Irish Language Act and agreement on the resolution of other outstanding issues.”

Adams also attacked Fine Gael and “their allies in government, Fianna Fáil”.

He told members that his party “must be in government” both north and south of the border.

“We want to transform politics on this island. We have no ambition to be part of the system. Our ambition is to change it,” he said.

Sinn Féin’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD is seen as the strong favourite to succeed Gerry Adams should he step down as leader.

At a separate event this morning, Minister for Health Simon Harris said her leadership would “not at all” change Fine Gael’s position on refusing to work with Sinn Féin in government.

“I think we saw Mary Lou McDonald’s view on a number of issues during the Mairia Cahill issue which shows that while she might present herself as the mordernising face of Sinn Féin, her views mirror those of Gerry Adams,” Harris said.

“They are two sides of the one coin and the policy platform of Sinn Féin is ambivalence on some very important issues in relation to security and wellbeing and protection of this country, and it is their policies that would bankrupt the nation that would concern us.”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke this morning, Sinn Féin finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty said Adams had made it clear in recent years that the party was in a process of transition.

Regarding this morning’s speech, Doherty said that Adams had set out his intentions in a transparent manner, and that at the November Ard Fheis he would set out where he believes his own position will be “in the next short while”.

Asked whether this would be the last time Adams would seek the leadership, Doherty said he “wouldn’t speculate”, before going on to pay tribute to the Sinn Féin president’s lengthy tenure at the head of the party.

Think-in

Sinn Féin’s two-day meeting of members will discuss policy and strategy ahead of the new Dáil term and as negotiations continue in Stormont.

Northern Ireland’s parties have been unable to agree a deal to resume power-sharing government in the north.

The party’s leader at Stormont Michelle O’Neill is present at the think-in and will address members tomorrow morning.

Speaking about the Northern Ireland impasse, Adams welcomed DUP leader Arlene Foster’s speech last week in which she said that the Irish language is not a threat, but the Sinn Féin leader said more is needed.

Adams insisted that a standalone Irish Language Act is needed as part of any government deal.

Additional reporting by Christine Bohan and Christina Finn

Read: RTÉ receives 203 complaints over controversial Late Late Show map

Read: Sinn Féin rejects Arlene Foster’s Irish language proposal

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Rónán Duffy

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