Sinn Féin members in Dublin have denied that candidate John O'Dowd has not been given a fair opportunity to contest the party's vice-presidency.

Michelle O'Neill is facing a challenge for her job at the party's Ard Fheis this weekend.

Ms O'Neill became vice president in January 2018 when her predecessor Mary Lou McDonald succeeded the retiring Gerry Adams as president.

At the launch of the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, which is taking place in Derry this weekend, MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone Michelle Gildernew says the Ard Comhairle took the decision not to hold hustings as members were busy campaigning for by-elections and elections in the North.

When asked if Ms O'Neill had the advantage as she has a bigger platform being the current vice president, Ms Gildernew said Mr O'Dowd, who is the former Stormont education minister, is very articulate and has been strong on the airwaves.

She added that the party is very lucky to have such skillful people in the party and that Mr O'Dowd has had plenty of opportunities to engage with grassroot members.

Ms Gildernew told reporters at the Alex Hotel that competition in the party is healthy.

Donegal TD Pearse Doherty refused to say who he is backing, while Carlow-Kilkenny TD Kathleen Funchion confirmed that her cumann is backing Ms O'Neill.