Sunday 19 August 2018

Mary Lou McDonald: I don't feel snubbed by Donald Trump

Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Frank McGrath
Sinn Féin President Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Frank McGrath
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said she does not feel she was snubbed by US President Donald Trump after she did not receive an invite to attend the annual St Patrick’s Day ceremony in the White House.

Ms McDonald also insisted former Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams should not turn down his invitation in solidarity with his party colleague.

The Dublin TD has previously attended the annual shamrock ceremony in the White House but this year she was not invited and neither was Sinn Fein Northern leader Michelle O’Neill.

Speaking in Washington, the day before the event, Ms McDonald said: “I don't feel that I was snubbed” and added: “It is a matter for the White House who they invite as their guests.”

“This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement. There are many celebrations marking that occasion and I think it is entirely appropriate actually that Gerry Adams, as one of the main architects of that agreement, would be at the White House. So no he should not snub the White House. He shouldn't be snubbing anybody,” she added.

A senior Sinn Fein source said they believed the “chaos” in the White House was reason the administration's failure to invite the party’s two most senior figure. 

Party officials are hopeful Ms McDonald and Ms O’Neill will be invited before the event tomorrow afternoon.

Two years ago, Mr Adams was refused entry to the White House due to confusion over a background security check on the then Sinn Fein leader.

On that occasion, Ms McDonald and now deceased Sinn Fein Northern leader Martin McGuinness attend the event.

Sinn Fein released a statement after Mr Adams was refused entry in which they referenced black civil rights icon Rosa Parks by saying the party party “will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone.”

Separately, Ms  McDonald welcomed Taoiseach Leo Varadkar’s announcement that he planned to invite Mr Trump to Ireland when they meeting in the White House tomorrow. Mr Varadkar also suggested he would bring the US President to the Northern Ireland border should he visit the country.

“On the issue of the President of the United States coming to Ireland that in the first instance is a call for the Taoiseach and for the diplomatic services but again where America can bring something positive to bear and make a positive contribution to our process I think we should always be open to that,” Ms McDonald said,

“I don't think for a moment that inviting another head of state should be read as endorsing or sharing their political views on things. But let's be honest, the stakes for Ireland now in light of Brexit, the challenges we face in getting the Northern administration up an running are very very great.

"I do think we can benefit from American influence in that but ultimately we will have to do the heavy lifting [ourselves],” she added.

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