Thursday 5 December 2019

Mary Lou McDonald backs Gerry Adams' comments making light of gun pointing at Irish Independent editor

SF deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald
SF deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald

Philip Ryan and Denise Calnan

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has defended party leader Gerry Adams’ comments where he made light of the fact that a gun was once held to the head of an Irish Independent editor.

“The Independent Group of Newspapers opposed (Sinn Féin) efforts at building peace 20 years ago, and continues to attack us today,” Mr Adams told a Sinn Féin fundraiser in New York.

Mr Adams referred to the Irish Independent’s call for the leaders of the 1916 Rising to be executed and described how Michael Collins dealt with a critical press.

 “He went in, sent volunteers in, to the offices, held the editor at gunpoint, and destroyed the entire printing press. That’s what he did. Now I can just see the headline in the Independent tomorrow, I’m obviously not advocating that,” he said at the New York event.

Today, Mary Lou McDonald defended the comments and told an Independent Group journalist that he was seizing “on this because God knows you have to have some negative story to put in your paper on Sunday either about Gerry or somebody else in Sinn Fein”.

Read more: Gerry Adams 'editor at gunpoint' remark at $500 a plate NY dinner

Speaking to the journalist, she said Gerry Adams made it clear he was not suggesting that putting a gun to an editor’s head was an appropriate course of action now:

“You ask about Gerry’s comments in the States. I wasn’t there to hear the comments but I do understand that he quite correctly was scathingly critical of Independent Newspapers and little wonder that he would be,” she said.

“Certainly, any objective assessment of the editorial line and the standard or should I say sub-standard of journalism, particularly in the Sunday Independent would explain absolutely why Gerry made those comments.

“I understand he referred back to Michael Collins, who was the person in questions who had the confrontation with the editor of the Independent. I think he made very clear he was not suggesting it was an appropriate course of action now,” she continued.

Read more: Adams jokes about Mairia coverage at NYC dinner

“And I put it to you, if you are going to be so relentlessly abusive, not just of the elected representatives of Sinn Fein but perhaps more to the point so abusive of people that vote for Sinn Fein, that support Sinn Fein then you shouldn’t be so sensitive when people criticises you back.”

Mary Lou McDonald said the comments were not ‘a threat of any shape, make or form’.

“He was referencing a turn of events many, many moons ago when Michael Collins, an Irish patriot I’m sure you will accept, took that particular action,” she continued.

“It was a comment as simple as that.

“It certainly does not constitute a threat of any shape, make or form. I think, true to your style, you are seizing on this because God knows you have to have some negative story to put in your paper on Sunday either about Gerry or somebody else in Sinn Fein.”

Read more: Sinn Fein accused of 'living the high life in New York'

Full transcript of interview:

Sunday Independent journalist: Can I ask about your own party leader and his comment in New York during the week. He made light of the fact that there was once guns put to the heads of the editor of the Irish Independent, albeit  along time ago. And given that this is a newspaper where guns have been pointed at journalists and triggers have been pulled and they have been killed, do you think it is appropriate he made those comments?

And at time when some of party supporters are involved in abusing people online and abusing people at water protests is it not tantamount to incitement to hatred.

Mary Lou McDonald: First of all Philip, our people are not involved in what you call abusing people at protests or elsewhere.

Sinn Fein people alongside lots of other, many of whom who have no party political affiliation are out on the streets the length and breadth of this State taking a stand on what they believe to be an unfair and unjust imposition on families who cannot pay for domestic water. It is not a case of will I, wont I – they cannot pay.

The frustration that exists is that there seems to been an absolute inability in Government circles to understand that simple concept of inability to pay, not affordability, inability that is a reality certainly for many, many people I represent.

You ask about Gerry’s comments in the States. I wasn’t there to hear the comments but I do understand that he quite correctly was scathingly critical of Independent Newspapers and little wonder that he would be.

Certainly, any objective assessment of the editorial line and the standard or should I say sub-standard of journalism, particularly in the Sunday Independent would explain absolutely why Gerry made those comments.

 I understand he referred back to Michael Collins, who was the person in questions who had the confrontation with the editor of the Independent. I think he made very clear he was not suggesting it was an appropriate course of action now.

And I put it to you, if you are going to be so relentlessly abusive, not just of the elected representatives of Sinn Fein but perhaps more to the point so abusive if people that vote for Sinn Fein, that support Sinn Fein then you shouldn’t be so sensitive when people criticises you back.

Sunday Independent journalist: And make threats involving guns

Mary Lou McDonald: There was no threats made to you

Sunday Independent journalist: Bringing up something about put guns to journalists heads, I don’t think it’s appropriate in any circumstance.

Even if he is making light of the fact and then following it up by saying he’s not advocating it.

Mary Lou McDonald: He was referencing a turn of events many, many moons ago when Michael Collins, an Irish patriot I’m sure you will accept, took that particular action.

It was a comment as simple as that. It certainly does not constitute a threat of any shape, make or form.

I think true to your style you  are seizing on this because God knows you have to have some negative story to put in your paper on Sunday either about Gerry or somebody else in Sinn Fein.

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