Popular, pragmatic and palatable to voters

Popular, pragmatic and palatable to voters
Mary Lou McDonald, leader of Sinn Féin: the party is now entrenched as a major force in the political system Picture: Fergal Phillips

In her first months as Sinn Féin leader, Mary Lou McDonald has shown herself to be a sharp political operator. Her party is now a major force in politics in the Republic and, with McDonald at its head, looks set to become even bigger

When Gerry Adams stepped down as Sinn Féin leader just over four months ago, he gave up a lot more than the role he held for nearly 35 years. The spacious leader’s office that looks out onto the Leinster House lawns is now Mary Lou McDonald’s. Adams no longer sits on the party’s all-powerful ard comhairle (national executive) and in the Dáil last week he was on the backbenches, looking like he was in holiday mode, wearing a casual, short-sleeved shirt he hadn’t even bothered to tuck in.

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