Mary Lou McDonald defends Sinn Fein members attending Maduro inauguration
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald has defended the attendance of two senior party members at the inauguration of controversial Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro.
Ms McDonald said Mr Maduro’s election was “open and democratic” before drawing comparisons between poverty levels in Ireland and Venezuela.
More than 80pc of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. The EU has said Mr Maduro’s re-election “lacked credibility” and the US said it was a “sham” election.
Sinn Fein MLA Conor Murphy and general secretary Dawn Doyle attend events in Venezuela related to Mr Maduro’s re-election.
"Yes, we had representatives in Venezuela for the inauguration of the democratically elected president,”Ms McDonald said.
“Politics increasingly is reflective of the fact that we live in a global village. We were there as part of a delegation, we were there because we were invited and I’m very glad that two Sinn Féin representatives were in attendance,” she added.
Ms McDonald said it was for the people of Venezuela to decide who they want to be their president.
"There are people in this country who would not endorse Leo Varadkar on the basis that they have endured poverty...we also have to accepted that he is the Taoiseach."
“In this democracy you would have people who are very critical of Government of the basis that they are experiencing poverty and that they are having a hard time,” she added.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the Sinn Fein Leader’s comparison of Mr Maduro and the Taoiseach was “breathtaking brassneckery”.