McGuinness ponders future as Sinn Fein leader

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness has said his party is seriously considering a change of leadership, but that he has not yet decided if this year’s Assembly elections will be his last.

The 65-year-old MLA, who will have turned 70 by the end of the next Assembly term, said he still has the “energy of a 20-year-old” and that very few people could keep up with him.

Mr McGuinness has held the post of Deputy First Minister since 2007.

Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster’s Inside Politics programme, he said: “I think Sinn Féin always has to look at the whole issue of transition and we are looking seriously at that.”

Mr McGuinness said he fully intended to “lead Sinn Fein into this election” and also predicted a “substantially increased mandate” for his party south of the border.

He also said that Sinn Fein will mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme later this year in a respectful and appropriate manner, and that he believes there is a “strong possibility” that his party will be in government in Dublin after the next election.

If Sinn Fein overtakes the DUP as the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly following the May election, he will immediately offer to change the title of the two top posts at Stormont to “joint first ministers”.

Inside Politics was broadcast on BBC Radio Ulster on Friday night but will be repeated at 1.35pm on Sunday (January 17).