Mary Lou McDonald, a Trinity aluma, was formally elected as president of Sinn Féin this evening. McDonald has succeeded Gerry Adams, who was leader of the party for 34 years.
McDonald, a TD for Dublin Central, was the sole contender for the position of president. She has been president-elect of the party since the beginning of this year.
In front of a congregation of over 1,500 people at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS), McDonald stated that she intends to double the size of the party. According to RTÉ, McDonald also said tonight: “Our purpose is to win. To win elections, to increase our political strength, to realise our ambition of being in government, north and south.”
When speaking of the eighth amendment, McDonald stated that Sinn Féin “will campaign enthusiastically for repeal,” and continued by saying that “despite differing views, I believe that the referendum debate can be handled with respect and sincerity.”
Sinn Féin has stated that they support the legislation of abortion in case of rape, incest, fatal foetal abnormalities and when the health and mental health of the mother is at risk. McDonald is expected to hold another Ard Fheis to adapt their policy.
She said that she wants to modernise the party and adapt their “approaches and structures” as they plan to gain new voters.
With regards to Northern Ireland, McDonald told delegates that her party is “up for a deal” and committed to “real power-sharing,” commenting that the issue was not “orange and green. This is all about rights”. She added that the talks are ongoing and Sinn Féin is committed to a positive outcome.
McDonald graduated from Trinity with a degree in English Literature. She also attended University of Limerick (UL) and Dublin City University (DCU), where she studied European Integration Studies and Human Resource Management.