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Sinn Féin cumann chairman repeats leadership contest call

THE veteran Sinn Féin cumann chairman who called for Gerry Adams to step aside has reiterated his call for a party leadership contest.

Thomas Anthony McNulty, who heads the Virginia Mullagh branch of Sinn Féin in Co Cavan, made an unprecedented call for a change of party leader in a letter to The Irish News earlier this month.

He said he was "angered" after reading reading an interview with the Louth TD by Deaglán de Bréadún in the paper, where Mr Adams said he had no plans to retire.

Sinn Féin has pointed to the endorsement which Mr Adams received at April's ard fheis and insisted he will remain as leader.

In a follow up letter published in The Irish News today, the 67-year-old Co Tyrone-born republican offers a riposte to Sinn Féin representative Louise O'Reilly, who in the wake of Mr McNulty's previous comments said the former IRA member should himself stand against Mr Adams.

Mr McNulty, who describes himself as a middle-ranking Sinn Féin member, thanks the Dublin TD for her intervention but rules out making a leadership challenge.

He concedes that he would not make a "good, competent, Sinn Féin leader" but says there is "great merit" in Ms O'Reilly's suggestion.

"So, if you would allow me to stand aside in that contest, I would be very happy to let someone else, who would be very competent as a Sinn Féin leader, to take my place," he writes.

"So then Louise, let me know that this is acceptable to you. If it is and I presume that it would be, why not?"

Mr McNulty calls for the beginning of an "open and honest debate" about the leadership at next year's Sinn Féin ard fheis.

He also distances himself from commentators who have used his remarks to "damage the party".

"I wish to disassociate myself from these people, who I regard as having a personal vendetta against certain people," Mr McNulty says.

"My criticism of Gerry Adams is not personal."

Originally from Dungannon, Mr McNulty became involved in the fledgling civil rights movement before joining the Provisional IRA.

He was arrested in the early 1970s for explosives offences and after skipping bail went on the run in the Republic. His experiences are recounted in his book Exiled, which was published in 2013.

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