Mary Lou McDonald defends missing Presidential inauguration for €400-a-plate New York fundraiser
SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has defended missing the Presidential inauguration in order to attend a €400 a plate fundraiser in the US.
Ms McDonald was not present in Dublin Castle on Sunday evening as Michael D Higgins was sworn in for a second term.
Instead she was attending a number of events in the US and Canada as part of a fundraising drive for the party.
It is believed the main event, a dinner at the Sheraton, in Times Square, New York where she was introduced by Gerry Adams, brought in up to €500,000.
However, Ms McDonald has insisted this was not an insult to the President who she wished "the very best".
Speaking to reporters at Leinster House this afternoon, she said: "I’m just back so I’m suffering from some jet lag."
The Dublin Central TD said Sinn Féin were well represented by their own Áras candidate Liadh Ní Riada, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty and MLA Conor Murphy.
Put to her that if Ms Ní Riada had won, she would have attended, Ms McDonald replied: “I don’t know that.
"I had a long-term commitment to go to the States and to Canada. This is the first occasion as party leader. It’s important that I was there."
She said meetings took place with "folks that have supported the peace process, the Good Friday Agreement and big movers in Irish political life".
"They are worthy of my respect and my attention. I think it was important that I was there."
Ms McDonald added that she is "sure" Mr Higgins took "no umbrage".
"They were long standing engagements and I fulfilled them.
"Yes, we did some fundraising work but I also met with trade unions, with civic groups, I met with emigrants and a broad range of people which would be standard for visits when they happen."