Adams steps down: end of an era at Sinn Féin

After 35 years Gerry Adams has handed over the reins of the Irish Republican Sinn Féin to his former deputy Mary Lou McDonald. The 48-year-old has announced that she wants to modernise the party. The media, however, are far less interested in her plans than in the departing Adams, regarded by many as the most significant politician in the Northern Ireland conflict.

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The Irish Times (IE) /

A liability for his party

Because of his involvement in the Northern Ireland conflict Gerry Adams ended up standing in the way of his party's success, The Irish Times comments:

“Adams has acted as a controversial bridge between the IRA's murderous activities and Sinn Féin's political development. He enjoyed overwhelming approval within the party, but he was also less genial and accommodating than the late Martin McGuinness, and found Southern politics deeply frustrating. Identified as the weakest link during election campaigns and consistently attacked by political opponents and sections of the media, it became clear that he had become a brake on the party's growth.”

NRC Handelsblad (NL) /

A dark shadow looming over fresh start

The new party chair Mary Lou McDonald is ushering in a new era for Sinn Féin, NRC Handelsblad comments:

“McDonald wants to set up Sinn Féin as a progressive alternative - for all Irish people on both sides of the border and of all denominations. She wants to turn Sinn Féin, which is inextricably linked with the fight for the Republic, into a normal party in a normal country. ... The danger for Sinn Féin and Mary Lou McDonald is that Adams is still omnipresent. The walls are plastered with huge posters showing his face. ... McDonald has set out her political plans. But the big challenge for her in the coming years will be to make sure that Adams does not hang like a shadow over the new Sinn Féin.”