Tuesday 11 December 2018

'Good soldier' McDonald a 'prisoner' of Sinn Féin's past, claims Martin

Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams
Mary Lou McDonald and Gerry Adams

Wayne O'Connor and Cormac McQuinn

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has hit out at Sinn Féin president-elect Mary Lou McDonald saying she is a "prisoner" of Sinn Féin's past.

He also rounded on the outgoing Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams, saying his legacy will be a negative one because of his association with violence and the Troubles in the North.

Speaking at a Fianna Fáil event last night marking the centenary of women winning the right to vote, Mr Martin ruled out any prospect of a coalition with Sinn Féin.

Ms McDonald will replace Mr Adams as leader on Saturday, taking over a party that still hasn't distanced itself from atrocities carried out by the Provisional IRA.

"She was a good soldier within Sinn Féin in terms of sticking to the line and defending the indefensible on many an occasion when better counsel should have suggested otherwise," said Mr Martin. "The key issue has not gone away in terms of Sinn Féin. I think Mary Lou McDonald to a large extent is a prisoner of Sinn Féin's narrative in relation to its recent past."

He also questioned Gerry Adams's legacy.

"I cannot get my head around the fact that for three decades there was unbelievable violence in Northern Ireland defended to the hilt by Gerry Adams who always defends it, calls it a 'struggle', calls it a 'war'."

He also claimed there was an "absence of democracy" within Sinn Féin. He said events of the past week, with councillor Noeleen Reilly leaving the party after claiming to be a victim of an assault by a woman close to TD Dessie Ellis, showed a "degree of centralised control" in the party.

"With both newly appointed leaders, Michelle O'Neill and Mary Lou McDonald, it is extraordinary that in a western democracy we have a situation in a party like Sinn Féin that there is no election.

"There was one person nominated to lead in the Republic and one person appointed in the North, there wasn't even an attempt to have a nominating process. I think that speaks volumes for the absence of democracy within the party."

Mr Martin's comments came as the son-in-law of murdered Jean McConville branded Mr Adams a "poacher turned game-keeper" who never admitted his role in the Troubles.

The first part of veteran broadcaster Vincent Browne's documentary, 'Gerry Adams: War, Peace and Politics', was broadcast last night on TV3.

Mr Browne said Mr Adams was "very much involved in the IRA campaign of atrocity, murder, and criminality" but that "without him, the atrocities almost certainly would have happened anyway." He added that without Mr Adams "peace wouldn't have happened when it did".

Mr McKendry said this was "clever wordage", but added: "I don't know how accurate it is."

Irish Independent

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Also in this section