Mary Lou McDonald Takes Over As New Leader Of Ireland's Sinn Fein

Bernadette McAliskey

Bernadette McAliskey

She spoke in front of a packed house at the RDS in Dublin outlining her plans as the party completes a generational shift for the former political wing of the IRA.

Before his entrance on the show, however, Garth Brook' If Tomorrow Never Comes played to welcome him on to talk about his life and legacy now that he's retiring from the Sinn Féin party.

For Sinn Féin supporters, Mr Adams is an iconic figure who has transformed the party's electoral fortunes to the extent that it has nearly reached parity with the DUP and could find itself as a coalition partner in the Republic.

"Why do we want English people to govern us?"

Fifty years ago when I joined Sinn Fein, it was a banned party. We are now off our knees.

Mr Adams played a pivotal role in the Good Friday peace agreement brokered in 1998 with the help of British prime minister Tony Blair.

"Now is a time for fresh thinking and bold ideas to take us forward".

He said at the "very core" of Irish unity was "uniting orange and green".

He added: I believe the future is bright. For us to reach out the hand of friendship, to find common ground.

Adams, who announced in November he was stepping down after nearly 35 years, was the key figure in the peace process that saw the signing of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and the formation of a power-sharing government between Northern Ireland's pro-British and republican factions.

Gerry Adams, the outgoing Sinn Féin leader, said that the talks were "a work in progress".

On Britain's upcoming departure from the European Union, or Brexit, she said Sinn Fein will not accept any deal that reinstates border controls between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Mr Adams today said Brexit had succeeded in highlighting how important the invisibly nature of the Irish border is - as well as turning the spotlight on the ignorance of the United Kingdom government regarding even basic aspects of Irish affairs.

Ms McDonald, a TD for Dublin Central, was the sole contender for the job and she has been president-elect of the party since the beginning of this year.

"Ms McDonald also said that while her party respects unionist traditions in the north, that they will be looking to ' secure and win a referendum on Irish unity".

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