Michelle O’Neill hoping to become deputy leader of Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill has revealed that she is planning to put herself forward to become the deputy leader of the party.

She says she wants to join president-elect Mary Lou McDonald in fronting the party.

Nominations to select a new vice president will get underway tomorrow, with the process lasting a week.

The new leader and deputy will officially be elected on February 10.

The party's national chairman Declan Kearney MLA said the nomination process for deputy leader will close on Monday January 29.

"This is an exciting time for Irish republicans with the nomination of Mary Lou McDonald the clearest signal to date that the process of renewal and regeneration of the party is now well under way," said Mr Kearney.

He added that 2018 "will be a challenging year for the Irish people".

Mr Kearney said the party is committed to achieving a positive outcome to the fresh round of talks aimed at restoring the powersharing government at Stormont.

He said this will "ensure the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement will represent a new positive point in the history of our island".

Mr Kearney also said with a new leader and deputy leader Sinn Fein "will face into the next general election offering the electorate an opportunity to elect a new government committed to tackling" the crises in health and housing.

He added: "We will also continue to deal with the challenges posed by Brexit and build support for designated special status for the North within the EU, as the only realistic alternative to the British Tory plan to deliver a hard Brexit border."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already welcomed the change of leadership in the party.

However, speaking to Clare FM, Mr Varadkar says he is not convinced Sinn Féin could run the country well, given their past performance in Northern Ireland.

"You know, Sinn Féin has been in power in the North, and it wouldn’t give me much confidence that they could do a good job here, given first of all, they’ve performed so poorly in Government in Northern Ireland, and secondly, have been unable to form a coalition a year after an election," he said.

- PA and Digital desk

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