Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams signals plans for leadership change after 34 years

Sinn Feins (L-R) Mairtin O Muilleoir, Michelle O'Neill, Declan Kearney, Gerry Adams, Niall O Donnghaile and Gerry Kelly pictured at a previous event: (Niall Carson/PA Wire)
Sinn Feins (L-R) Mairtin O Muilleoir, Michelle O'Neill, Declan Kearney, Gerry Adams, Niall O Donnghaile and Gerry Kelly pictured at a previous event: (Niall Carson/PA Wire)

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said he will announce plans for his future when the party grassroots meets in November.

Mr Adams, who has led the republican party since the early 1980s, had already said he wanted to remain at the helm for the next general election in the Irish Republic.

But at a meeting of Sinn Fein representatives ahead of the Dail resuming, the 68-year-old said the party has a 10-year plan which included an “orderly leadership change”.

The strategy was first mooted last year and work on it began before Martin McGuinness died earlier this year.

“This has been the focus of much internal discussion for the last year,” Mr Adams said. “It is about preparing the party for the next ten years and to ensure that we are better able to achieve our strategic objectives.”

Sinn Fein’s deputy president, Mary Lou McDonald, will be one of the front runners to succeed Mr Adams - a scenario that would give the party female leaders on both sides of the border.

Mr Adams said if he was successfully elected president of the party he would set out priorities and a “planned process of generational change, including my own future intentions”.

The elected representatives at the meeting in the City Hotel in Co Meath also heard some of Sinn Fein’s priorities for the next Dail term and the next election.

On Brexit, Mr Adams said the Irish government has a responsibility to defend Northern Ireland voters’ wish to remain in Europe.

He said the UK Government’s papers on leaving the customs union will cost jobs, and undermine the economies in the Republic and Northern Ireland.

“It is also time for the Irish government to accept that the best protection for the island of Ireland in any post Brexit arrangement is for the North to be designated special status within the EU,” he said.

Mr Adams said a referendum on a united Ireland in the next five years is “achievable and winnable” and should be government policy in the Republic.