Northern Ireland

Who will succeed Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness?

Sinn Féin's successor as Northern Ireland leader of the party will be announced next week
Image caption Sinn Féin's successor as Northern Ireland leader of the party will be announced next week

Former deputy first minister Martin McGuinness has confirmed he will not stand in the Northern Ireland Assembly election.

His successor as Sinn Féin's leader in Northern Ireland will be announced next week.

So who will replace him? Three names are tipped as the most likely contenders - Finance Minister Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, Health Minister Michelle O'Neill and MLA and former MP Conor Murphy.

Conor Murphy

Conor Murphy is a key member of the Sinn Féin negotiating team who has represented the party at the Hillsborough, Leeds Castle and St Andrew's negotiations as well as playing a key role in the Fresh Start agreement negotiated at Stormont House.

Image caption Conor Murphy has represented the party at the Hillsborough, Leeds Castle and St Andrew's negotiations

After his election to the assembly in 1998, he was the party's chief whip.

In 2005, he became the first Sinn Féin member to be elected as MP for Newry and Armagh.

Following Mr Murphy's re-election to the assembly in 2007, he was appointed minister for regional development, a position that he held until 2011.

He was criticised for the NI Water crisis as minister during the winter of 2010/11.

In 2012, ahead of a ban on double-jobbing, he left the assembly to concentrate on his role as an MP.

He returned to the Assembly in 2015 when Mickey Brady was elected MP for the constituency. Since re-entering the assembly he has been a member of both the Enterprise, Trade and Investment Committee and the Public Accounts Committee.

Michelle O'Neill

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill has held various senior positions within Sinn Féin.

She has worked in the Assembly since 1998, initially as political adviser to MP and former MLA Francie Molloy, before being elected to Dungannon and South Tyrone Borough Council in 2005.

Image caption As health minister since May 2016, tackling mounting hospital waiting lists has been a huge task for Mrs O'Neill

Mrs O'Neill was elected to the assembly for the Mid Ulster constituency in 2007, sitting on the education committee and serving as Sinn Féin's health spokesperson.

In 2011, she was appointed as minister for agriculture and rural development.

The following year, she announced that the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) would move to a former British army barracks in Ballykelly, County Londonderry.

Following the announcement, it came to light that Strabane had been chosen as a more suitable location by an internal DARD assessment, a decision that Mrs O'Neill then overruled.

In February 2013, it was also revealed that the decision had been questioned by the Finance Minister Sammy Wilson.

As health minister since 2016, tackling mounting hospital waiting lists have been a huge task for Mrs O'Neill.

In October, she launched a 10-year plan to transform health service, saying it would improve a system that was at "breaking point".

Opposition politicians questioned the lack of details in the plan, which was not costed.

But it set out a range of priorities, including a new model of care involving a team of professionals based around GP surgeries.

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has previously been a writer, journalist and publisher of the Belfast Media Group newspapers and the Irish Echo in New York.

Image caption Máirtín Ó Muilleoir became finance minister in May 2016

The former west Belfast councillor served as Lord Mayor of Belfast from June 2013-June 2014 and was broadly praised for reaching out to unionists, despite attacks by loyalist protestors.

Mr Ó Muilleoir subsequently stood unsuccessfully as Sinn Féin's candidate for South Belfast in the 2015 Westminster election, but was returned in the Stormont Assembly election of May 2016.

As finance minister, he was the first Sinn Féin minister to hold a major economic brief in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

His role has included leading the implementation of the devolution of corporation tax, due to happen in 2018.

However, he became embroiled in controversy in 2016 when news emerged about a back channel of communication between a Stormont committee chairman and a witness who was giving evidence on the Nama property loan sale.

Mr Ó Muilleoir denied knowledge of alleged coaching of loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson by finance committee chair Daithí McKay before his appearance.

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