Gerry Adams has decided when he will step down as Sinn Féin leader and his departure will be part of the plan being developed by the party.

The Sinn Féin president has said the party is in transition and for the first time indicated his departure by stating it is not a question of if, but when, he will allow someone else take over as leader.

Mr Adams, who has headed Sinn Féin for 33 years, said the party would be consulting with the grassroots of the party to put together a plan for the next 10 years.

“Part of that will see a change of leadership, but we will come to this, it’s a matter for the party, it’s a matter of course in the first instance for myself whether or not I would allow my name to go forward,” he said.

As he arrived at the Sinn Féin think-in, he said: “We are a party in transition, I have made it very very clear so it isn’t question of if I will step down, its a question of when I step down and we have a plan.”

However, he refused to give a time- frame on his departure joking with the media that: “The problem is if we tell you, you would tell everyone else”.

He appeared to suggest that he would favour a woman for the leadership position after he steps down.

Earlier in the day Sinn Féin vice president Mary-Lou McDonald — who has been tipped as a contender to take over the party — repeatedly stated that Mr Adams would step aside “when the time is right”.

“Gerry is leader of the party because he is the party’s choice as leader. Often when this minor obsession for some is rehearsed on the public airwaves you would be forgiven for thinking that Gerry imposed himself on a resistant membership and party,” she told RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme.

The Dublin Central TD added: “We had our ard fheis. Gerry was returned as leader. Gerry enjoys our full support as leader, and when the time is right we will know. Gerry will know.”

Sinn Féin has now developed a strategy for when Mr Adams steps down as leader and party members are to be consulted on a plan for the next decade which will include new leadership.

Mr Adams said: “We are in consultation with our grassroots putting together a programme for the next 10 years.

“People within the party are quite entitled to discuss this [leadership] issue, I am not precious about it.”

In perhaps a signal as to whom he would like to see lead the party after his resignation, Mr Adams said: “I have found it a great honour to serve Sinn Féin in any capacity whatsoever and I have absolute confidence in that whole cadre of activists in that blend of experience of youthful energy of being right across the entire island of Ireland, of having women, as is right, in positions of leadership.”

Responding to a question in Irish about the leadership he said he has known for a “very long time” what he is is going to do and when he will be standing down.


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