Wednesday 26 April 2017

Taoiseach signals a U-turn as shadow of IRA violence recedes

Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams, Michelle O’Neill and Martin McGuinness raise their hands
together after Ms O’Neill’s selection as the newly appointed Stormont leader for Sinn Féin. Photo: PA
Mary Lou McDonald, Gerry Adams, Michelle O’Neill and Martin McGuinness raise their hands together after Ms O’Neill’s selection as the newly appointed Stormont leader for Sinn Féin. Photo: PA
John Downing

John Downing

We remain to be completely convinced about Sinn Féin's total abandonment of their dark past. But there are clear signs that the baton is about to be passed to a new generation of leaders who had no direct involvement in matters paramilitary.

As Michelle O'Neill was inducted to the leadership of the party in the North last week, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald was to be seen in pretty well all the photographs. Ms O'Neill's father has an IRA past but she does not. And Ms McDonald has come to politics long after the IRA ceasefires.

Granted, there are two prominent IRA men among their 23 TDs. But Martin Ferris of Kerry is 65 next birthday and Dessie Ellis of Dublin North-West was 64 last October.

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