Mary Lou McDonald believed to be only candidate to replace Gerry Adams as Sinn Féin leader
NOMINATIONS to become the next leader of Sinn Féin closed last night, with Mary Lou McDonald believed to be the only candidate.
Party president Gerry Adams announced his intention to stand down in November after more than three decades at the helm.
Ms McDonald, the current deputy leader and a Dublin Central TD, is now set to succeed him at a special ard fheis on Saturday February 10.
Nominations closed yesterday at 5pm, but there were not expected to be any challengers.
Other senior party figures who had been tipped as potential future leaders ruled themselves out of the running at an early stage.
Northern leader Michelle O'Neill said she has "enough to do leading the north at this moment in time" while Donegal TD and finance spokesman Pearse Doherty also said he would not be seeking to head the party .
Sinn Féin's ard comhairle will meet in Belfast today as part of preparations for the ard fheis, where they will also formally ratify the nominee for president and are expected to discuss whether to open nominations for vice-president.
A number of Sinn Féin representatives have taken to social media to offer their support to Ms McDonald.
Fiachra McGuinness, the son of the late Martin McGuinness, described her as the "ideal candidate to lead Sinn Féin into the future".