Mary Lou McDonald has officially taken the reigns from Gerry Adams and has been ratified as the new Sinn Féin leader.
The Dublin Central TD says that she is “honoured” to be elected as Uachtarán Shinn Féin.
Michelle O’Neill has also been announced as the party’s new Leas Uachtarán.
Donegal TD Pearse Doherty spoke at the Ard Fheis today, saying that Sinn Féin is now “entering a new era.”
“Under the leadership of Mary Lou McDonald and Michelle O’Neill we will seek to build a genuine republic with equality and social justice at its very core.
“Now as a new generation takes the reins of leadership, our job is to bring innovative and modern ways of advancing our politics. Now is a time for fresh thinking and bold ideas to take us forward,” the Donegal TD said.
McDonald says that her primary focus as leader of the republican party is to unify Ireland.
“I believe in the unity of our nation in all its colours and the unity of all our people. I believe in our freedom.
“We want to secure and win a referendum on Irish Unity… We do not want a 32 county free state. We want a new Ireland, in which rights are guaranteed, cultures respected, and the diversity of our identities embraced.”
She also discussed the upcoming referendum on the Eighth Amendment, saying that Sinn Féin “will campaign enthusiastically for repeal.”
“The referendum provides us with an historic opportunity to finally ensure that compassion and trust in women prevails… For too long women have been let down. This cannot continue.”
The new Sinn Féin leader also reiterated the party’s belief that any sort of border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland would prove disruptive to the peace process.
“Brexit represents a real threat to our prosperity, to the economic, social and political life of Ireland. It fundamentally challenges twenty years of hard won progress.
“We cannot thrive and prosper if the life and livelihoods of our people are fractured and disrupted by a border of any kind – hard or soft. There can be no imposition of a border on the island of Ireland… Ireland will not be the collateral damage in the political games and antics of Tories in London.”
Deputy McDonald thanked Gerry Adams for his work with the party, saying he is her “political mentor, an inspirational leader, and a great friend.”
In her acceptance speech, MLA Michelle O’Neill says that reconciliation and Irish unity are to the fore of the party’s objectives in the years to come.
“It is a huge honour and it’s very humbling for me to be elected.
“We will continue to meet with the DUP and both Governments and will re-engage on Monday and I anticipate that Talks will conclude next week.
“I believe that the issues which caused the collapse of Stormont can be resolved with political will and mutual respect.
“Issues like marriage equality, an Irish language act, legacy inquests, rights, respect and integrity in government should not be politically contentious.”
O’Neill concluded by saying: “Comrades we are on the cusp of that Irish Republic. Let’s go out and grab it.”