McDonald says 'tiocfaidh ár lá' speech sign off 'not a harking back to the past'
Newly elected Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has said her use of the phrase 'tiocfaidh ár lá' during her first speech as president of the party was about the future and not a harking back to the past.
In an unscripted conclusion to her speech as she assumed leadership of the party she said "up the Republic, up the rebels, agus tiocfaidh ár lá".
She came under heavy criticism for her use of a slogan long associated with the IRA but speaking on the Late Late Show she defended her language.
"At the Ard Fheis I was setting out things that I believe passionately in things like social progress, social justice , shared prosperity. A new Ireland. And for me to utter the words 'tiocfaidh ár lá' refers absolutely to that vision of a new Ireland.
"And I know for some people that sounds like a harking to the past, for me it absolutely is not," she said.
"I'm a new leader of Sinn Fein and it's about the future, it's about moving to the future. It's about building a new Ireland and that is what I am about and that was what my speech was about - including the last utterances."
When pressed on the phrase's link to the past she admitted that she could have used other words to express her meaning but said:
"I think in terms of language that is used I think if language carries a negative connotation you reclaim it."
She said the "last place" she wants to go is the past and when host Ryan Tubridy put it to her that she went "right there" by using that expression she replied "absolutely not".
Ms McDonald also denied Sinn Fein has a problem with a culture of bullying following the departure of several members of the party over alleged bullying.
She said there have been "instances that have been problematic" and that they had to be dealt with.
"I want people to come into Sinn Fein and have a pleasant experience and have a happy experience. I want them to be good in their activism and to support each other.
"If that breaks down there's rules that need to be applied but you know there are certain circumstances Ryan where you can do lots of things but you can't fix people and if relationships break down irrevocably and people aren't prepared to make them up you are in a position then where it ends in tears," she said.
In a wide-ranging interview the Dublin Central TD said she does not feel like she is emerging from the shadow of Gerry Adams who led the party for 34 years.
She urged people to “just watch” how her leadership unfolds and then judge her capability as a leader of the party and as a female leader.
She also touched on a Dáil row in 2017 during which Taoiseach Leo Varadkar called her "cranky" joking that it was "one all" following her recent description of him as "smarmy" on Sky News.