Sunday 20 October 2019

Adams admits SF 'called it wrong' in presidential election

Gerry Adams said President Higgins was 'too strong'. Photo: Mark Condren
Gerry Adams said President Higgins was 'too strong'. Photo: Mark Condren
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Gerry Adams has admitted Sinn Féin "called it wrong" and didn't engage its own supporters in the recent presidential election.

The party's candidate, Liadh Ní Riada, came a distant fourth to Michael D Higgins in a disastrous result for the party.

She picked up little more than 6.3pc of the vote - well below Sinn Féin's usual support, which hovered in the mid-teens in some polls in the months leading up to the vote.

Mr Adams insisted Ms Ní Riada was a "formidable candidate" but added: "We were never going to win. Michael D was too strong."

And he conceded: "We called it wrong in that we didn't engage our own people."

He argued some of Mr Higgins's supporters would vote for Sinn Féin in other types of election.

The former Sinn Féin leader's remarks came in an interview with RTÉ's Ryan Tubridy, who asked how Sinn Féin could have engaged its voters. Mr Adams replied: "I don't know, to tell you the truth."

He said he was "on the stump" in his Louth constituency but added: "We didn't get people engaged.

"They didn't see it as an election which deals with housing, would deal with homelessness, the health services, with any of those issues."

He predicted Sinn Féin's share of the vote will return.

On the day of the election count, Ms Ní Riada blamed the low-turnout and the "personality-based" nature of presidential elections for Sinn Féin's dismal result.

At the time, Mary Lou McDonald rejected suggestions the party's strategy had failed and criticised other parties for not fielding candidates.

She said: "We're about affording people democratic opportunities... So far from a failure this has been a good campaign for us, albeit with a disappointing outcome."

Irish Independent

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