Mary Lou being positioned to replace Adams
SINN Fein is actively positioning Mary Lou McDonald as the party's future leader amid growing unrest over Gerry Adams's IRA connections.
In her strongest remarks yet about her political ambitions, Ms McDonald confirms her desire to lead Sinn Fein.
"If at some stage there was a vacancy, I would certainly consider it," she said.
Her hopes of succeeding Gerry Adams have been boosted after the party's finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty ruled himself out of any leadership contest.
The spotlight on the Sinn Fein leadership is set to intensify this week with the airing of a new TV3 documentary about the party's association with the IRA.
Mr Adams continues to defend the IRA's campaign of terror – despite denying that he was ever a member of the criminal organisation.
"The point I'm making is that I'm very, very clear about my denial of IRA membership but I don't disassociate myself from the IRA," he told the station's political editor Ursula Halligan.
Asked whether he believes the IRA's campaign of violence was justified, Mr Adams replied:
"I believe so. I don't believe all of its actions were justified."
The programme features interviews with a number of former IRA members and cabinet ministers from both north and south of the border.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter is scathing of what he describes as the IRA's "war crimes", while Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said IRA violence in the north has led to "probably the permanent partition of this country".
Several Sinn Fein politicians, including a number of TDs, are now actively looking towards a replacement for Gerry Adams.
While a leadership challenge is not on the cards, party figures are becoming increasingly agitated at the intense and continued focus on their leader's past.
Ms McDonald has now emerged as the clear successor to Mr Adams after Donegal South West TD Pearse Doherty ruled himself out.
"For me personally, to take on more responsibility would tip the balance completely in the wrong direction," he said.
"It's one of my greatest fears in life – that at some time in the future I would regret the amount of time I spent away from my [four] children and family. That may change as things change but that's the position I'm in at this point in time," he added.
The two-part documentary, Sinn Fein: Who are they?, shows Ms McDonald talking about her political future while doing grocery shopping in Superquinn.
Asked how a 'girl from Rathgar' ended up in the party, the mother of two responds: "Because she did. I was looking for something real, somewhere you could make a difference and Sinn Fein provided that space."