Leader of Sinn Féin

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President of Sinn Féin
Gerry Adams 2013.jpg
Incumbent
Gerry Adams, TD

since 13 November 1983
Inaugural holder Edward Martyn
Formation 28 November 1905
Website Gerry Adams, TD

The leader of Sinn Féin (alternatively known as the Uachtarán Shinn Féin or President of Sinn Féin) is the most senior politician within the Sinn Féin political party in Ireland. Since 13 November 1983, the office has been held by Gerry Adams, following the resignation of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh as leader of the party.[1]

The deputy leader of Sinn Féin is Mary Lou McDonald.[2]

The leader of Sinn Féin in Northern Ireland is Michelle O'Neill.[3]

Background[edit]

The post of the President of Sinn Féin was officially created in 1905 when Arthur Griffith founded the party. Edward Martyn, a cultural activist and playwright was selected as the first president at its first annual Ard Fheis on the 28 November 1905. Unlike other Irish political parties, most notably Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil, the President of Sinn Féin does not have the power to dismiss or appoint their deputy and to dismiss or appoint parliamentary party members to front bench positions. These decisions are taken by the Ard Chomhairle (National Executive).

In the Northern Ireland Assembly, Sinn Féin is in government under a power-sharing agreement with the Alliance Party, Democratic Unionist Party, Social Democratic and Labour Party and the Ulster Unionist Party. The President of Sinn Féin does not act as the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, If the President is not a member of the Assembly, then an MLA of the party is appointed as Leader in the North to replace him or her.

Until 2010, Sinn Féin did not have enough TDs to qualify for group speaking rights in Dáil Éireann. If the President is not a member of Dáil Éireann, then a TD is appointed in his or her place to act as the leader of the parliamentary party. Since 2011, the President of Sinn Féin has served as the Second Leader of the Opposition and chairs the second opposition front bench.[4]

Two of the fourteen leaders of Sinn Féin have been elected to a public office while serving as leader. Éamon de Valera was elected as an MP in the House of Commons and a TD in Dáil Éireann. However, he did not take his seat in either legislature as per party policy. De Valera’s predecessor, Arthur Griffith helped increase party support following the 1916 Easter Rising. When the party split due to the Anglo-Irish Treaty, both De Valera and Griffith joined opposing sides with De Valera leading the Anti-Treaty faction, while Griffith joined the Pro-Treaty faction, which later became Cumann na nGaedheal. De Valera’ successor John J. O'Kelly was one of four leaders who served for brief periods of time as Sinn Féin’s party membership declined in favour of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

In 1937, Margaret Buckley became the first female President of Sinn Féin. During her thirteen years as leader, she vastly improved the relations between the IRA and the party. She was succeeded by Paddy McLogan and Tomás Ó Dubhghaill who both helped rebuild party support in the aftermath of World War II. Tomás Mac Giolla became president in 1962 and served for over eight years as leader of the party. When the party split, Mac Giolla remained leader of Official Sinn Féin. Official Sinn Féin was later renamed the Workers' Party. Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was elected as the new leader of the Provisional Sinn Féin in 1970. Ó Brádaigh's presidency was shaped by relentless violence between republican and loyalist paramilitaries and the British security forces. He was one of the republican representatives which met with the British representatives in hope of ending the Troubles.

Ó Brádaigh's resigned in 1983, due to dissatisfaction among party activists in Northern Ireland. Vice President Gerry Adams became the fourteenth President of the party in 1983. He is currently the longest serving president in the party’s history. During his presidency, the IRA declared a ceasefire and the Good Friday Agreement was signed. Party support rose as Sinn Féin became the largest nationalist party in Northern Ireland. In 2011, Gerry Adams left the Northern Ireland Assembly and won a seat in Dáil Éireann. He is the first president since 1926 to also sit in Dáil Éireann. On January 23, 2017, Michelle O'Neill was selected as the leader of Sinn Féin in the North, replacing Martin McGuinness.

Presidents[edit]

1905–26[edit]

No. Name
(Birth–death)
Portrait Constituency Term of office Comments
1 Edward Martyn
(1859–1923)
County Galway
None 1905 1908
2 John Sweetman
(1844–1936)
County Dublin
None
(Served as MP for East Wicklow
from 1892–95)
1908 1911
3 Arthur Griffith
(1872–1922)
County Dublin
Arthur Griffith.jpg None
(Later served as MP & TD for East Cavan,
MP for North West Tyrone,
TD for Fermanagh and Tyrone
and TD for Cavan)
1911 1917
4 Éamon de Valera
(1882–1975)
New York
Eamon de Valera c 1922-30.jpg MP for Clare East (1917–22)
TD for Clare East (1918–21)
MP for Down (1921–29)
TD for Clare (1922–26)
1917 1926 Leader of Fianna Fáil (1926–59)

1926–present[edit]

No. Name
(Birth–death)
Place of birth
Portrait Constituency Term of office Comments
5 John J. O'Kelly
(1872–1957)
County Kerry
None
(Served as TD for Louth from 1918–21
and TD for Louth–Meath from 1921–23)
1926 1931
6 Brian O'Higgins
(1882–1963)
County Meath
None
(Served as MP for Clare West from 1918–22,
TD for Clare West from 1918–21
and TD for Clare from 1921–27)
1931 1933
7 Fr. Michael O'Flanagan
(1876–1942)
County Roscommon
None 1933 1935
8 Cathal Ó Murchadha
(1880–1958)
County Dublin
None
(Served as TD for Dublin South from 1921–22 and 1923–27)
1935 1937
9 Margaret Buckley
(1879–1962)
County Cork
None 1937 1950 First female leader of an Irish political party
10 Paddy McLogan
(1899–1964)
County Armagh
None
(Served as MP for South Armagh from 1933–38)
1950 1952
11 Tomás Ó Dubhghaill
(1917–1962)
County Dublin
None 1952 1954
(10) Paddy McLogan
(1899–1964)
County Armagh
None
(Served as MP for South Armagh from 1933–38)
1954 1962
12 Tomás Mac Giolla
(1924–2010)
County Tipperary
Tomás Mac Giolla.jpg None
(Later served as TD for Dublin West)
1962 1970 Leader of Official Sinn Féin (later the Workers' Party) (1970–88)
13 Ruairí Ó Brádaigh
(1932–2013)
County Longford
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh 2004.jpg None
(Served as TD for Longford–Westmeath
from 1957–61)
1970 1983 Leader of Republican Sinn Féin (1986–2009)
14 Gerry Adams
(born 1948)
County Antrim
Gerry Adams 2013.jpg MP for Belfast West (1983–92; 1997–2011)
MLA for Belfast West (1998–2010)
TD for Louth (2011–present)
1983 Incumbent

Vice Presidents[edit]

The Deputy leader of Sinn Féin is usually a senior politician within Sinn Féin.

Unlike other political party leaders, the leader of Sinn Féin does not have the power to appoint or dismiss their deputy. The position is elected by members of the party at the Ardfheis. The Vice-President has a seat on the Ard Chomhairle (National Executive) Officer Board.

1905–83[edit]

President Vice-President
(Birth-death)
County of Birth
Portrait Took office Left office Vice-President
(Birth-death)
County of Birth
Portrait Took office Left office
Edward Martyn Arthur Griffith
(1872-1922)
County Dublin
Arthur Griffith.jpg 1905 1908 John Sweetman
(1844-1936)
County Dublin
1905 1907
Bulmer Hobson
(1883-1969)
County Antrim
1907 1910
John Sweetman None (1908-1911)
Arthur Griffith Thomas Kelly
(1868-1942)
County Dublin
Alderman Kelly.jpg 1910 Unknown
Jennie Wyse Power
(1858-1941)
County Wicklow
1911 Unknown
Éamon de Valera Fr. Michael O'Flanagan
(1876-1942)
County Roscommon
1917 1923 Arthur Griffith
(1872-1922)
County Dublin
Arthur Griffith.jpg 1917 1922
Kathleen Lynn
(1874-1955)
County Dublin
1923 1927 P. J. Ruttledge
(1892-1952)
County Mayo
1923 1926
John J. O'Kelly Mary MacSwiney
(1872-1942)
London
1927 Unknown John Madden
(died 1954)
County Mayo
Unknown
Brian O'Higgins Unknown
Fr. Michael O'Flanagan Margaret Buckley
(1879-1962)
County Cork
1933 1937 John J. O'Kelly
(1872-1957)
County Kerry
1933 1934
Liam Raul
(died 1945)
County Dublin
1934 1935
Cathal Ó Murchadha Liam Raul
(died 1945)
County Dublin and Tom Maguire
(1892-1993)
County Mayo
1935 1937
Margaret Buckley
Seamus Mitchell 1937 Unknown Padraig de Paor 1937 Unknown
Criostóir O'Neill Unknown Unknown
Paddy McLogan Tomás Ó Dubhghaill
(1917-1962)
County Dublin
1950 1952 Michael Traynor
(born 1917)
County Antrim
1950 1954
Tomás Ó Dubhghaill Margaret Buckley
(1879-1962)
County Cork
1952 1960
Paddy McLogan Tomás Ó Dubhghaill
(1917-1962)
County Dublin
1954 1962
Paddy McLogan Tony Magan
(1911-1981)
County Meath
1960 1962
Tomás Mac Giolla Michael Traynor
(born 1917)
County Dublin
1962 Rory O'Driscoll 1962 1963
Larry Grogan
(1899-1979)
County Louth
1962 1969
Seán Caughey
(-2010)
County Antrim
1963 1965
None (1965-1966)
Joe Clarke
(1882-1976)
County Dublin
1966 1972
Cathal Goulding
(1922-1998)
County Dublin
1969 1970
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh Larry Grogan
(1899-1979)
County Louth
1970 1971
Dáithí Ó Conaill
(1938-1991)
County Cork
Dáithí Ó Conaill 1974.jpg 1971 1978
Máire Drumm
(1919-1976)
County Down
1972 1976
Joe Cahill
(1920-2004)
County Antrim
1976 1978
Gerry Adams
(born 1948)
County Antrim
Gerry Adams Easter Lily Badge.jpg 1978 1983
Dáithí Ó Conaill
(1938-1991)
County Cork
Dáithí Ó Conaill 1974.jpg 1978 1983

1983–present[edit]

Following the election of Gerry Adams as the 14th President of Sinn Féin, the position of co-vice presidents was removed. Instead, a single vice-president was elected at the 1983 Ard Fheis to serve in place of the two former vice-presidents.

President Vice-President
(Birth–death)
County of Birth
Portrait Constituency Term of office Notes
Gerry Adams Phil Flynn
(born 1940)
County Louth
None 1983 1985
John Joe McGirl
(1921–1988)
County Leitrim
Councillor for Ballinamore
(Leitrim County Council)
1985 1988 Contested the 1987 general election for Sligo–Leitrim
Pat Doherty
(born 1945)
Glasgow
PatDoherty.jpg MLA for West Tyrone (1998–2012)
MP for West Tyrone (2001–present)
1988 2009
Mary Lou McDonald
(born 1969)
County Dublin
Mary Lou McDonald 2009.jpg MEP for Dublin (2004–2009)
TD for Dublin Central (2011–present)
2009 Incumbent Dáil Spokesperson on Public Expenditure and Reform

Parliamentary party leaders[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

Note: Only includes elections contested by persons who were President of Sinn Féin at time of contesting election.

No. Name Constituency Election Body First Preference (share) Success Defeated by Party
4. Éamon de Valera Belfast Falls 1918 Dáil Éireann /
House of Commons
3,245 (27.7%) Defeated Joseph Devlin Irish Parliamentary Party
4. Éamon de Valera Clare East 1918 Dáil Éireann /
House of Commons
Unopposed Elected
4. Éamon de Valera Down South 1918 Dáil Éireann /
House of Commons
33 (0.2%) Defeated Jeremiah McVeagh Irish Parliamentary Party
4. Éamon de Valera Mayo East 1918 Dáil Éireann /
House of Commons
8,975 (66.5%) Elected
4. Éamon de Valera Clare 1921 Dáil Éireann Unopposed Elected
4. Éamon de Valera Clare 1922 Dáil Éireann Unopposed Elected
4. Éamon de Valera Clare 1923 Dáil Éireann 17,762 (45.0%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 1987 House of Commons 16,862 (41.1%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 1992 House of Commons 16,826 (42.1%) Defeated Joe Hendron Social Democratic and Labour Party
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 1996 Forum 22,355 (53.4%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 1997 House of Commons 25,662 (55.9%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 1998 Assembly 9,078 (21.7%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 2001 House of Commons 27,096 (66.1%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 2003 Assembly 6,199 (18.9%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 2005 House of Commons 24,348 (70.5%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 2007 Assembly 6,029 (17.8%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Belfast West 2010 House of Commons 22,840 (71.0%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Louth 2011 Dáil Éireann 15,072 (21.7%) Elected
14. Gerry Adams Louth 2016 Dáil Éireann 10,661 (15.8%) Elected

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]


References[edit]

  1. ^ "Remembering the Past: Gerry Adams elected president of Sinn Féin". An Phoblacht. 20 November 2008. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "McDonald proposed as SF vice president". RTÉ. 8 January 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  3. ^ Guardian. 24 January 2017 https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2017/jan/23/sinn-fein-names-michelle-oneill-as-new-leader-in-northern-ireland. Retrieved 24 January 2017.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  4. ^ "Adams unveils new Sinn Féin front bench". Irish Examiner. 23 March 2011. Retrieved 4 June 2014.