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Sean O’Rourke raises questions about Sinn Féin ‘omerta’ at launch of book on Mary Lou McDonald

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Shane Ross and Sean O'Rourke at the launch of Ross's book at Doheny & Nesbitts Pub, Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Shane Ross and Sean O'Rourke at the launch of Ross's book at Doheny & Nesbitts Pub, Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Shane Ross and Sean O'Rourke at the launch of Ross's book at Doheny & Nesbitts Pub, Dublin. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Former RTÉ broadcaster Sean O’Rourke has raised concerns about the impact Sinn Féin will have on independent broadcasting if they were ever to become a party of government.

Speaking at the launch of a new book by Shane Ross on Mary Lou McDonald, the ex-radio and television host criticised what he called the “control freakery” in Sinn Féin.

“This lack of openness, this omerta is deeply disconcerting,” Mr O’Rourke said.

“What does it tell us about what we might expect from Sinn Féin in government? How would the party set out about controlling its message, not just in the day to day dealings with the media but in its appointments to sensitive positions in the governance of broadcasting for example, and the media generally,” he added.

Mr O’Rourke was referring to Ms McDonald refusing to cooperate with the book Mr Ross wrote about her life which raises significant questions about her career and especially around how she paid for her palatial family home in Dublin.

He said Ms McDonald “pulled down the shutters” and as did many Sinn Féin TDs who Mr Ross worked with in Leinster House over many years serving in parliament.

However, Mr Ross said he spoke to Ms McDonald’s family and friends both on and off the record for the book Mary Lou McDonald – A Republican Riddle.

The former Transport Minister said the main question he sought to answer in the book was how someone from her middle class and “well off” background came to such a position in Sinn Féin.

Mr Ross said the book also seeks to answer the question as to why it took Ms McDonald so long to become a Sinn Féin republican after first joining Fianna Fáil.

Separately, the one-time Independent Alliance leader took aim at RTÉ for their treatment of Mr O’Rourke in the aftermath of the fallout from the Oireachtas Golf Society dinner during the pandemic.

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Mr Ross said it was a “disgraceful episode in the history of RTÉ” after the station took the decision to cancel a project they were planning to air with Mr O’Rourke.

“It's something that I think more people should talk about and have the courage to talk about because Sean was extremely badly treated,” he said.

He said he was privileged to have the former RTÉ broadcaster launch his book and said he hoped to hear more of him “again and again and again”.


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