Adams to stand down as Sinn Féin leader

Gerry Adams

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Gerry Adams said this year’s party conference would be his last as leader

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has revealed he plans to stand down as leader of the party next year.

Mr Adams also said he will not stand for election to the Irish parliament (Dail) at the next election.

Speaking at the Sinn Féin ard fhéis (party conference) in Dublin, Mr Adams said it would be his last as leader.

“Leadership means knowing when it’s time for change and that time is now,” Mr Adams said.

Profile: Gerry Adams

The 69-year-old TD (member of the Irish parliament) for County Louth has been party president since 1983.

Analysis: BBC NI political editor Mark Devenport

So the build-up was justified – to paraphrase one of Gerry Adams’ most famous phrases, he is going away you know.

The precise date will depend on the party’s ard comhairle or ruling executive which is expected to meet within the next fortnight – they will in turn call an extraordinary ard fheis where a new leader will be elected.

Sinn Féin may hope that Mr Adams’ decision not to stand in the next Irish election will make any talks about a future coalition in Dublin more straightforward.

But the Fianna Fáil Leader Micheal Martin has repeated his view that Sinn Fein remains unacceptable as a partner in government.

Whatever the future brings, though, there’s no doubt Gerry Adams’ move marks an historic change as a leader who oversaw the republican movement’s journey between violence and peace gives way to another politician who will pursue Irish unity through more conventional parliamentary politics.

Mr Adams said he will be asking the party leadership to agree a date in 2018 for a special party conference to elect a new leader.

“I have always seen myself as a team player, as a team builder,” he said.

Mr Adams said the move was formulated along with party colleague Martin McGuinness before his death earlier this year.

It has already seen Michelle O’Neill, 40, take the role of Sinn Fein’s leader at Stormont.

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