Delegates at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis have voted in favour of a motion to hold a special Ard Fheis three months after the departure of the party president.

The motion will allow for a leadership contest once a vacancy arises.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has announced he will step down as party president next year.

Delegates have also voted in favour of a motion supporting the repeal of the 8th amendment to the constitution.

The motion committed to campaigning to repeal the 8th amendment and called on the government to hold a referendum on the issue "without delay".

Deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke in favour, pledging that the party would "not cop out on an issue of such importance to women".

"It is my firm view that the 8th amendment protects nobody… and is a deeply cruel amendment to our constitution witch subjugates women," she said.

Speaking against the motion, Meath TD Peadar Tóibín appealed for flexibility on the issue, pointing out that many members joined the party under different rules. 

Mr Tóibín asked delegates: "Given that many of us joined under other rules, is it not reasonable to ask for flexibility on this issue?"

He also said that anything that looks like the British Abortion Act would be like "political kryptonite" here.  

Delegates also voted against motions which would allow party members vote on the issue "according to their conscience". 

Earlier, party members also voted on a motion to relax the rules around the councillors holding paid employment within the party.

Meanwhile, Ms McDonald told her party's Ard Fheis that they remain committed to full power-sharing in Northern Ireland.

However, she told delegates at the conference in Dublin that agreement could only be secured when previous agreements are honoured by all.

During this morning's live broadcast, she also criticised the Government's confidence and supply agreement with Fianna Fáil.

Ms McDonald told delegates that it "serves only to confirm the political establishment's indifference and inability to act in the interest of ordinary citizens".

Sinn Féin's housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said the party would double investment in social housing, and build 10,000 social housing units until the housing crisis has ended.

The party's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill has called on the Government to publish a green paper on Irish unity and to appoint a minister to advance unity.

The conference is due to debate motions on climate change, justice, education, health and abortion later this afternoon. 

The focus is then expected to move to the future of party leader Gerry Adams who is expected to use his key note address to set out his plans for the future. 

Last night, the party voted in favour of a motion to hold a special conference on any decision to enter coalition government, with Ms McDonald telling delegates that those who said Sinn Féin were not interested in government were very wrong.