Published: Sun, February 11, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Sinn Fein gets a new leader, Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein gets a new leader, Mary Lou McDonald

McDonald was the sole candidate for the position, while Michelle O'Neill has formally been elected as Vice President of the party at the Ard Fheis.

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

Mary Lou McDonald is officially the new leader of Sinn Féin. Unlike McGuinness, he has always denied membership of the IRA. The Sinn Fein team is committed to a positive outcome.

Mr Adams was a British MP between 1983 and 1992, and from 1997 to 2011, although never took his seat at Westminster because of Sinn Fein's policy of abstention in the British parliament.

"We are the generation of republicans who will see the rising of the moon", she said. "There are still obstacles and difficulties and the fact that it's taken so long shows how hard it is". "I regret that it took so long", he said.

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The transition comes as Northern Ireland's political landscape remains deadlocked.

The two parties, representing mainly Catholic proponents of uniting with the rest of Ireland and majority Protestant supporters of continued rule by Britain, have failed to meet a number of deadlines to reach agreement since then.

At that time he had also said Sinn Fein would be working towards a unity referendum to be held within the next five years.

Some have said that the current political deadlock in Stormont puts the entire peace process at risk.

"Progress has been made in the talks but there are outstanding issues to be resolved; talks are continuing and should conclude next week", a Sinn Fein spokesman said.

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McDonald takes over from a divisive leader; on the one hand Adams was part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement that saw the end to the sectarian violence through a power-sharing government in Northern Ireland.

"The European project has the potential to transform the lives of citizens for the better, but it can only do so if the social agenda becomes its driving force", she said.

It has a strong chance of entering a coalition government for the first time after the next election.

Many in the province fear that direct rule would further destabilise the balance between Sinn Fein and the DUP who, until past year, had run the province since 2007.

Mary Lou McDonald, 48, has replaced Mr Adams and she was welcomed by party members at a special conference on Saturday afternoon in Dublin.

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