Ireland's Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to step down in 2018

Ireland's Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to step down in 2018

Sinn Féinwill hold the second day of it's annual conference today where party leader Gerry Adams is expected to outline his plans for the future.

The 69-year-old, who has been the party's president since 1983, announced there would be a special meeting next year to help elect a successor.

But Adams was at the time walking a political tightrope - between IRA "hawks" who argued that only a continuation of violence would chase Britain from the island, and "doves" who said that negotiations were the route to a united Ireland. Analysts say a change of leadership could help open the way to Sinn Fein's entering government in Dublin for the first time.

Sinn Fein has achieved solid progress in the Republic of Ireland, according to the latest opinion polls.

Describing the Peace Process as "a great achievement", Mr Adams said Irish republicanism had never been stronger. "I have been privileged to be part of an unbelievable leadership", Adams said.


The Good Friday agreement gave the province's Catholics a share of power and largely ended a conflict in which some 3,600 people had been killed, many at the hands of Irish republican groups such as the IRA, and others by pro-British unionist paramilitaries and British security forces.

As head of the political wing of the IRA during its bombing campaigns in 1980s Britain, Adams was a pariah and banned from speaking on British airwaves, forcing television stations to dub his voice with that of an actor.

Even so, suspicion of Sinn Fein's role in the Troubles in Northern Ireland still runs deep.

"Under a new Sinn Fein leader I think anything is possible", said David Farrell, politics professor at University College Dublin.

McGuinness resigned in January as deputy First Minister, causing the collapse of the Northern Ireland's devolved government, over a botched energy scheme and died shortly after in March.

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