Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said his party will make the announcement of Martin McGuinness’s successor next week. Speaking to RTE news on Friday, he insisted the former deputy First Minister is just “standing down” from office and he hopes that he will be back.
He said: “Hopefully in the fullness of health, he’ll be back with the rest of us, moving forward against the consequences of Brexit, facing up to the bad policies of Fianna Fail and Fine Gael.”
After ten years of political stagnation at Stormont, there are a number of possible options for Sinn Fein but no clear successor. The odds appear to favour Conor Murphy (bottom left), a former MP for Newry and Armagh and a former Minister for Regional Development. From the republican heartland of South Armagh, he was closely involved in selling the controversial aspects of recent talks deals such as the St Andrews and ‘Fresh Start’ Agreement s
Sinn Fein’s policing spokesperson Gerry Kelly (bottom right) is another former negotiator who is currently Junior Minister at the Office of the First minister and deputy First Minister. However, he has been overlooked in recent Ministerial appointments and his IRA reputation could make him unacceptable to the DUP, who have previously refused to countenance him as a potential Justice Minister.
Another possible candidate is Michelle O’Neill (top right), the Health Minister and now the most senior Sinn Fein Minister at Stormont, where she has been articulating the party’s position in recent weeks since Martin McGuinness became ill. However, she is little known outside her Mid Ulster constituency and has recently faced her own scandal after claiming rental expenses for a constituency office owned by the husband of a colleague.
Other suggestions have included media publisher and recently elected Finance Minister, Mairtin O Muilleoir (top left), or Sinn Fein’s 26 County Finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty who it was claimed might move north to take over the reins.
Mr Adams said the decision would be announced on Monday. He added: “We’re not replacing Martin, he’s irreplaceble but the new person coming into the job needs to be able to put his or her mark on that job within our general reconciliation towards unity, making sure the institutions work for everybody.”
On the issue of his own retirement, he added: “Martin made it clear and I said it publicly last year that we are a party in transition and that means a change in leadership, but I think one big announcement at the beginning of the year - and that wasn’t planned, Martin’s illness intruded and that’s the way life is at times.”