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Gerry Adams Stepping Down as Sinn Fein Leader After 34 Years

11 February 2018

Adams played a major role in convincing the IRA to disarm as part of the Northern Ireland peace process and masterminded Sinn Fein's rise to become the second-biggest political force north of the border and the third in the south.

The new leader also spoke about Sinn Fein's stance on the Eighth Amendment.

Mary Lou McDonald has been elected as the new president of Sinn Féin.

In January when she was announced as president-elect Mrs McDonald said that under her leadership the party would aim to convince unionists that a United Ireland was the best way forward for everyone.

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Adams, 69, announced his intention to quit the party in November a year ago and the appointment of McDonald is seen by many as a chance to modernise Sinn Fein.

She began her tenure with a first speech as leader on Saturday vowing to work towards Irish unity "in our time" while noting "there is no value in re-fighting the battles of the past".

Unlike Adams, 69, who grew up in the sectarian environment of Belfast, McDonald came from a wealthy background.

Sinn Fein's primary objective is Irish reunification, bringing Northern Ireland out of the United Kingdom and into the Republic of Ireland.

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She was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Limerick and Dublin City University, studying English Literature, European Integration Studies and Human Resource management. "To win elections, to increase our political strength, to realise our ambition of being in government, North and South".

"We must only agree that the past is never again repeated", she said.

McDonald was previously a member of Fianna Fáil, another Irish republican party, although quit to join Sinn Fein in 1998.

She became the party's deputy in 2009 and in 2011 won a seat in the Irish parliament, representing Dublin Central. Raised in the affluent Rathgar area, she she has two brothers and a sister.

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Gerry Adams Stepping Down as Sinn Fein Leader After 34 Years