Mary Lou McDonald has stressed the importance of a “respectful, friendly atmosphere” in Sinn Féin after officially announcing she will be standing for party president, writes Elaine Loughlin.
It comes after a number of elected representatives have either left the party or have been expelled over unacceptable behaviour, including allegations of bullying and harassment.
Both Ms McDonald and current leader Gerry Adams have always strongly denied there is a culture of bullying within the party.
Officially declaring herself as a candidate to succeed long-time Sinn Féin president Mr Adams last night, Ms McDonald said: “Where relationships break down or rivalries take hold, where disciplinary issues emerge it is important that we remember why we each joined Sinn Féin, what we are about as Republicans that we put front and centre our political ambition for a united, equal Ireland.
“It is also important that the rules of the party are respected by every member of our party and that they are applied fairly.”
Speaking at her party’s Dublin Central general election selection convention, Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin has grown “substantially” in a very short period of time which had brought both “great energy and positivity to our politics” as well as “challenges”.
“Ensuring a respectful, friendly atmosphere in our party is very important,” she said. “Managing our transition from a smaller to a much larger party is challenging, but we will rise to this challenge. I am sure of that.”
Sinn Féin is to hold a special ard fheis to elect a new party leader before the end of February.
The party’s ard comhairle met in Dublin over the weekend to make arrangements around appointing a successor and set up a committee to arrange the special conference for early next year.
Paying tribute to the outgoing president, Ms McDonald told members Mr Adams had lead the party for almost 35 years through “periods of upheaval and conflict through periods of great change and the challenge of brokering and building the peace”.
She said: “More than any other, Gerry Adams has driven the growth and success of Sinn Féin and Republican politics across Ireland.
“There is only one Gerry Adams — unique, exceptional, inspirational.”
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