Sinn Fein deputy leader’s ‘pride’ at support for IRA

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein’s deputy leader has come under fire after she refused to condemn the IRA’s bombing campaign.

In an interview on RTE’s ‘Today with Sean O’Rourke’ show yesterday morning, the Dublin Central TD spoke about attempts by Sinn Fein to grow their support base.

Presenter Cormac Ó hEadhra put it to Ms McDonald that, for “middle ground” voters in the Republic of Ireland, Sinn Fein are the party who “supported for years the IRA bombing campaign”.

He added: “Would you like, in an attempt to draw in more voters, to shake off that tag, or do you continue to defend that bombing campaign even now?”

In response, Ms McDonald said she was “very proud” of Sinn Fein’s history.

She added: “I have no desire or any intention of shaking anything off, any more than other political parties don’t wish to shake off the memory of Dan Breen, Sean Treacy, or Michael Collins.”

Former Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey said voters in the Republic have “a big decision to make” at the next election.

“The idea that Sinn Fein are a modern political party is pure bunkum. They are nothing of the sort,” he added.

“If they cannot separate themselves from a vicious guerilla organisation – which some of their key members were a part of – then they are never going to be a normal party.

“Are people in the Republic really contemplating putting a party like that into a position of power?”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail also hit out at Ms McDonald’s remarks. The party said Sinn Fein’s “efforts to draw comparisons between the PIRA and those who fought for and secured Irish independence is a tired and entirely discredited strategy”.

A spokesperson added: “Their continued insistence on a blanket justification for all PIRA activity, while at the same time claiming to want to build trust with unionism continues to undermine any progress towards actual Irish unity.”