Mary Lou McDonald speaking on Saturday. RollingNews.ie photo
By Anthony Neeson
New Sinn Féin president Mary-Lou McDonald has thanked her predecessor, saying more than anyone else Gerry Adams built the modern Sinn Féin.
Speaking at the RDS on Saturday, and to a packed hall, the Dublin Central TD – who will now lead the republican party along with Sinn Féin’s new deputy leader, Michelle O’Neill MLA – said Mr. Adams’ leadership had “guided our party to its strongest position since partition. He has defined politics on this island for a generation or more.
“When others said it was impossible, Gerry, along with Martin McGuinness, John Hume and indeed others, bravely walked the path of peace.
“Their vision and hard work brought an end to conflict on this island. Gerry, thank you for leading.”
McDonald said that now that a younger generation had taken over the reins, it was time for fresh thinking and bold ideas.
“I am ready to lead. Shoulder to shoulder with our Leas Uachtaráin Michelle O’Neill, we will lead from the front, with determination and courage,” she said.
“Raised on songs and stories, I am a proud Dubliner. I am a mother. I want what every parent wants – for our children to be happy, to fulfil their dreams and potential, to never be held back by inequality, disadvantage or discrimination.
“To live in an Ireland that creates opportunities for all and not just for the few. I believe in getting things done. If something is broken you roll up your sleeves and fix it.”
She said that Sinn Féin would build a united Ireland and a “real republic.”
Continued McDonald: “Our party is on the side of the ordinary people. Sinn Féin is a grassroots party. It is our membership that defines and sustains us. It is our membership that will keep this party moving forward.
“Our responsibility now is to adapt and modernize our approaches and our structures. Sinn Féin has grown rapidly in recent years. We want to double the size of our party again, in the years ahead.
“Ireland is no longer simply orange and green. We are a rainbow of colors. So the party we build must be reflective of the society we live in.
“This will mean changes in how we operate. We must be open, flexible and enthusiastic in creating space for newer members and for the sharing of new ideals.”