Mary Lou McDonald defended by Irish American over parade banner

An Irish American journalist has defended Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald for walking behind an “England Get Out of Ireland” banner in the New York City’s Saint Patrick’s parade.

Tuesday, 19th March 2019, 7:35 am

Niall O’Dowd, writing for the Irish American website Irish Central, argued that attempts to politically damage the Sinn Fein leader will “backfire badly”.

Meanwhile political commentator Malachi O’Doherty said Ms McDonald and those who defend the banner are “just flaunting their ignorance”.

Mr O’Dowd said the ‘England Get Out of Ireland’ is a banner that has “long defined” the New York St Patrick’s Day parade.

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He said: “It is the only political banner allowed in the parade, a gesture of defiance that has echoed down the decades. Since 1948, it has been borne and I can attest that it gets the loudest cheer along the route.”

He went on to claim that Nazi and Confederate flags were flown in unionist communities in Northern Ireland.

He said: “It is stating the obvious the Irish want the English out of Ireland, which is the same goal the Irish government has had since Ireland was partitioned.”

Malachi O’Doherty commented: “A flaw in the IRA’s analysis was superceded by the peace process. This viewed Britain as an invader and assumed that peace would be restored if the invader left. This is the thinking behind the banner.

“In endorsing that banner republicans are reversing their own journey towards a realisation that the problem is not so simple, and that the majority inside NI – not England – determines the constitutional status. That’s what they agreed on. So Mary Lou and those who defend the banner are just flaunting their ignorance.”