Gerry Adams to step down as Sinn Féin president later this year, party figures claim
GERRY Adams is set to step down as Sinn Féin president in the autumn to be replaced by Mary Lou McDonald, it has been claimed.
The Sunday Times reported that the Louth TD will hand over the leadership to Ms McDonald at the next ard fheis, likely to take place in October or November.
Mr Adams, who turns 69 in October, has been the party's leader for more than three decades, taking over as president from Ruairí Ó Bradaigh in 1983.
In January, Mid-Ulster MLA Michelle O'Neill was named as Sinn Féin's 'northern leader' after being ratified by the party's ard chomhairle.
At the time of Mrs O'Neill's appointment, Sinn Féin declined to outline the full selection process involved, with a party spokesman stating: "The Sinn Féin president brought forward a recommendation that was ratified by the ard chomhairle."
The moves towards a change in leadership follow the death of Martin McGuinness in March and the decision of veteran republican Pat Doherty to stand down as West Tyrone MP.
The Sunday Times reported that Ms McDonald, the party's vice-president and Dublin Central TD, was expected to be the only candidate, with Donegal TD Pearse Doherty ruling himself out of contention for the top job.
Sinn Féin is understood to have been due to hold an ard fheis in Dublin earlier this year, but the conference was cancelled due to the Assembly election, with the upcoming Westminster poll causing it to be further postponed.
A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: "Gerry Adams has made it clear that Sinn Féin is in transition.
"He has a plan in mind for the future which has to be endorsed by the party.
"He will make that plan public when it is appropriate to do so."