Michelle O’Neill to stand for Sinn Fein deputy leader

Sinn Fein press conference today
Sinn Fein press conference today
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Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill intends to put herself forward for the position of deputy leader of the party.

Ms O’Neill, the party’s Northern Ireland leader, said she wants to join president-elect Mary Lou McDonald in her leadership.

Nominations will begin on Monday to select a new vice president.

The move comes after Mrs McDonald was named as leader-elect at a meeting of Sinn Fein’s ard comhairle (high council) in Belfast on Saturday.

Ms O’Neill took to Twitter on Sunday to announce her desire to become Mrs McDonald’s deputy.

In a video post she said: “Mary Lou McDonald is our new president-elect. She is going to be a formidable political leader. I want to join her in her leadership.”

She added: “I am going forward for the position of vice president of our party. I am going to ask the membership across the island for their support in order to do so.”

The party’s national chairman Declan Kearney MLA said the nomination process for deputy leader will close on Monday January 29.

The new leader and deputy leader will be officially elected at a special Sinn Fein Ard Fheis on February 10.

“This is an exciting time for Irish republicans with the nomination of Mary Lou McDonald the clearest signal to date that the process of renewal and regeneration of the party is now well under way,” said Mr Kearney.

He added that 2018 “will be a challenging year for the Irish people”.

Mr Kearney said the party is committed to achieving a positive outcome to the fresh round of talks aimed at restoring the power-sharing government at Stormont.

He said this will “ensure the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement will represent a new positive point in the history of our island”.