Gerry Adams is world's second longest serving party leader after Robert Mugabe

As Sinn Féin president for 34 years, Gerry Adams is one of the longest serving party leaders in the world.

He is beaten only by Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's ruler for the last 37 years.

But, the changing of the guard is coming and Mary Lou McDonald is the clear favourite to take over the role as Sinn Féin leader.

She was described recently by her party colleague Caral Ni Chuilin as "one of the most formidable women in politics."

Born in May 1969, she was raised in the affluent Rathgar area of Dublin and was educated at Notre Dame, a private fee-paying school in the city. She is a graduate of Trinity College, University of Limerick and DCU.

Her first formal link to politics was as a consultant and researcher with the Institute of European Affairs, a think tank run by Brendan Halligan, the former Labour TD.

She joined Fianna Fail in 1998, then defected to Sinn Fein shortly afterwards, becoming deputy leader of the party in 2009.

She was an MEP before she became a TD in 2011.

Mrs McDonald is definitely the rising star of the party and has said "if there were a vacancy" for the role of president she "would certainly consider it."

However, some eyes are also on Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill as a possible contender.

Born in January 1977, she was raised in the village of Clonoe in rural County Tyrone and hails from a family of prominent Irish republicans.

Her father, Brendan "Basil" Doris, was a former IRA prisoner who became a Sinn Fein councillor in Dungannon.

She began working for Sinn Fein when the Good Friday Agreement was signed in 1998.

Her assembly career began in 2007, when she joined Martin McGuinness and Francie Molloy as a Mid Ulster MLA.

She rose to the role of agriculture minister before becoming health minister.

Ms O'Neill has been at the forefront in recent months of the Stormont talks aimed at restoring the collapsed powersharing Executive.


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