Louth Deputy Adams steps down as Sinn Fein leader after 35 years

He was first elected to the Dail in 2011

Staff Reporter

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Staff Reporter

Louth Deputy Adams steps down as Sinn Fein leader after 35 years

Adams will not stand in Louth in the next General Election

Louth TD Gerry Adams officiallly stepped down as Sinn Fein President on Friday, after 35 years in the role, with Mary Lou McDonald formally selected as his successor at a special party Ard Fheis at Dublin's RDS. 

Despite Adams being re-elected as party President late last year, he confirmed that he would step down in 2018 whilst also announcing he would not stand for re-election as a TD in the next local elections. 

Subsequently, Louth Sinn Fein selected Dundalk-based councillor Ruairi Ó Murchu to go forward as the party's candidate in the next General Election. He will join sitting TD Imelda Munster on the ticket. 

Speaking on Friday, Deputy Adams said, "I want to thank everyone who helped me during my 35 years as leader of Sinn Féin. Tá mé fíor buioch daoibhse go léir. 

"I have been very fortunate to have known many very good people during that time and I am confident that the new leadership of the party – Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill – will help make Sinn Féin even bigger and stronger in the time ahead.

"There are many challenges facing the people of this island. Sinn Féin is the only major party committed to ending the crisis in our health services, in housing and homelessness and in rural communities.

"A united Ireland has to be worked for," he added. "It is in some difficulty at this time. But it offers the way forward. There is now a peaceful and democratic path to Irish unity. A way to unite Orange and Green and end division. Everyone who wants a new and agreed Ireland should embrace that.

"I believe the future is bright. I believe that we will find a way forward."

Adams was first elected to the Dail in 2011, topping the polls having resigned his seat as an MP for Belfast West, and was re-elected in 2016. 

Also on Friday, Adams expressed concern at comments from the European Union's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier that border checks are ‘unavoidable’ as a result of the British government’s failure to agree progress on transition arrangements. 

"The EU Council is due to meet in March and, by that stage, it was expected that the British would have clarified what kind of relationship they wanted with the EU post-Brexit," Adams said. "Agreement was also to be achieved on the structure and detail of the transition arrangements.

"It would appear from Mr Barnier’s comments this morning [Friday] that no agreement has been reached on either of these matters. Mr. Barnier pointed out that ‘time is short, very short, and we haven’t a minute to lose if we want to succeed’.

"The Irish government must urgently seek clarification from the EU negotiating team on the current state of play with the British."

Barnier said last week that Britain's decision to leave the EU single market and customs union will mean checks at the Irish border are "unavoidable".