Mary Lou McDonald to succeed Gerry Adams as Sinn Fein party leader

Mary Lou McDonald the current deputy leader of Sinn Féin is expected to be the next president of the party

The Ennis branch of Sinn Féin has endorsed Mary Lou McDonald to be the next leader of the party.

Party president Gerry Adams announced his intention to stand down in November after more than three decades at the helm.

Sinn Féin's Ard Comhairle met in Belfast earlier to formally announce McDonald as nominee for leader.

She added that Sinn Fein is "probably the most exemplary party when it comes to girl power at this stage in Irish politics" - a reference to the fact that the party in Northern Ireland is also led by a woman, Michelle O'Neill.

Sky News this morning reported that the party's deputy leader was the only candidate to succeed Gerry Adams when nominations closed this morning.

"Together, united and strong, let's go forward and let's build our new Ireland".

Mr Adams also used the Belfast gathering to indicate Sinn Féin wants to see an end to the stalemate at Stormont.

Adams played a major role in convincing the IRA to disarm as part of the Northern Ireland peace process and masterminded Sinn Fein's rise to become the second-biggest political force north of the border and the third in the south.

A special party conference to ratify Ms McDonald as leader will be held on February 10.

In Belfast, Mr Adams, the Sinn Fein party president for three decades, said: 'We need to have a party that's fit for objective, we need to have a plan.

"In my view, this is not good for anyone expect a small minority of bigots" he said.

In his speech, Mr Adams stated that "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". We are agents for change and it is up to us to find the ways and means to create more of this positive change. "We also have to challenge unionism", he added.

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