Mary Lou McDonald is set to take over from Gerry Adams as the leader of Sinn Féin after it emerged she will run unopposed for the job.
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The deputy leader is the only candidate to be the next president of the left wing nationalist party after a deadline for other rivals to put their name forward expired.
Sinn Fein’s national executive committee will meet in Belfast Saturday to discuss the outcome of the nomination process. A special party conference to elect a new leader will be held on 10 February.
Speaking in Belfast, Ms McDonald said she felt enormous pride. She called for Irish unity, describing it as “the best solution, the best collective arrangement".
She told the crowd it could be done "in an atmosphere that isn’t toxic or bigoted” but one which was “respectful".
“The truth is, my friends, I won’t fill Gerry’s shoes but the news is that I brought my own. So I will fill my shoes, I will walk in my shoes,” she told a listening crowd:
Ms McDonald, 48, was Sinn Féin’s first MEP and has been TD, a position equivalent to a MP, for Dublin Central since 2011.
Described as a “Marmite” politician, Ms McDonald has been an ardent supporter of Mr Adams, who has been president for more than three decades.
She refused to distance herself from atrocities committed by the Provisional IRA ahead of Sinn Féin’s last party political conference.
Ms McDonald’s judgement was called into question for her response to former Sinn Féin MP Barry McElduff’s offensive social media post about the Kingsmill massacre.
On the anniversary of the massacre, Mr McEldruff put a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head in a video posted on Twitter.
Ms McDonald described the three-month suspension handed down by the party as "appropriate and proportionate". Mr McElduff later resigned.
She takes over at a time when Ireland is considering holding a referendum on abortion and is closely involved in ther ongoing Brexit negotiations.
There are also ongoing talks to restore devolution in Northern Ireland and possible general and president elections in the Republic.
In brief | Sinn Féin