Sinn Féin's Pat Doherty has announced he will step down as Vice President of the party at the Ard Fheis in February. Dublin MEP Mary Lou McDonald has been nominated to replace him, a move widely seen as a promotion from her position as Party Chair.
Doherty, the MP for West Tyrone, has been VP since 1988 and his ageing years means his stepping down is of little surprise. The Donegal man has been a bit part player at the Assembly since devolution returned and Esoterica believes it is very likely that Doherty will not stand at the next Westminster election, paving the way for West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff to stand. McElduff incidentally received more first preference votes than Doherty in the 2007 Assembly election, priming himself as the heir apparent for the Westminster candidature.
Party Leader Gerry Adams will be staying on as President for another year at least, but with Doherty departing, one may genuinely begin to wonder when (and to whom) Adams will be handing over the reins of power.