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Mary Lou McDonald set to be next Sinn Féin president

President elect and current deputy leader of the Sinn Féin party Mary Lou McDonald addresses supporters at the Balmoral Hotel in Belfast. Credit: PA

Mary Lou McDonald has been confirmed as the sole candidate in the race to succeed Sinn Féin party president Gerry Adams.

Mr Adams announced in November that he was stepping down after 34 years in the role.

He announced the Dublin TD as the president elect at a hotel in Belfast on Saturday after the party's ard comhairle (ruling executive) formally ratified her as the only nominee.

A nomination process to fill Ms McDonald's position of deputy leader is to open for a period of 10 days.

A special party conference to ratify a new leader will be held on 10 February.

Mrs McDonald told party members: "I grew up watching Gerry Adams on the telly.

"Little was I to know at that time that I would come to know and work so closely with Gerry and the entire leadership and to have him as such a close friend.

"But I certainly never would have guessed that come February 10 2018 that I would be the boss of him."

To applause, she added: "I won't fill Gerry's shoes, but the news is that I brought my own.

"I will fill my shoes, I will walk in my shoes and we together over the coming years will walk a journey that is full of opportunities, full of challenges, but which I believe marks a defining epoch, a defining chapter in our achievement of a united Ireland and the ending of partition.

"That is not a pipe dream, that is not empty rhetoric, that is the road we are on.

"And let it be understood that this is not uniquely a project for republicans or nationalists, I believe that Irish unity is the best solution, the best collective arrangement for all of our people including our unionist brothers and sisters and I know that we have a job to do to convince them of that but I know that we are more than fit for that task."