Thursday 24 October 2019

SF still run by unelected individuals, says Martin

Mary Lou McDonald with Michelle O’Neill. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty
Mary Lou McDonald with Michelle O’Neill. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty

David Raleigh

Sinn Féin continues to be an "apologist" for the IRA and is controlled by unelected individuals in Belfast who dictate party policy, Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has said.

In a stinging attack on SF leader Mary Lou McDonald and deputy leader Michelle O'Neill, Mr Martin reiterated he will not enter into any coalition government with Sinn Féin.

"The control mechanisms within Sinn Féin are worrying, in that unelected people have undue control over the shape of party policy, and that would happen if Sinn Féin were in government as well," Mr Martin said in Limerick yesterday.

Mr Martin made reference to Sinn Féin's reaction to the recent appointment of Drew Harris, the former deputy chief constable of the Police Service of Northern Ireland, to the role of Garda Commissioner.

"It was quite interesting to see the Sinn Féin response. Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire [Cork South-Central TD] was quite reasonable and moderate on [RTÉ's 'Morning Ireland'], in his response to questions about that appointment, and by 12 o'clock Mary Lou (McDonald) had gone full circle and was in attack mode on Drew Harris," he said.


Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Mark Condren
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin. Photo: Mark Condren

"I often ask myself the question: Did Mary Lou get a few phone calls from people in Belfast, to say we want you to change tack, we want the party to change tack, in relation to [Mr Harris's] appointment?

"There is that centralised control in the [Sinn Féin] party, which has manifested itself in many councillors resigning across the country, because they feel they are told what they have to do," he continued. "I'll be very clear. We have issues with Sinn Féin, particularly in terms of the manner in which Sinn Féin is insisting that we and others have to accept their narrative of the past," he added.

"The current leadership of Sinn Féin are apologists for the [IRA's] murder and mayhem over the last 30 years.

Sinn Féin had no comment to make when contacted.

Mr Martin went on to describe Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a "prickly" man "with an authoritarian streak".

He made the comments in relation to the Taoiseach's remarks about Donald Trump and the media.

Mr Martin said he agreed that "people can be critical of the media - but when Leo Varadkar said he sympathises with Donald Trump's position on the media, I drew a deep breath on that. I said hang on a second, some of the attacks of Donald Trump on the media have been unacceptable, in my opinion.

"Leo Varadkar has [always] fed off the Irish media. He has used the Irish media [and] he would have been notorious as a leaker, providing information to the journalists who he now accuses of being gossipers around Leinster House."

When asked about the Fianna Fáil leader's comments, the Taoiseach said he was "not going to get involved in tit-for-tat personalised comments".

"It is a free country and he is entitled to free speech and if he wants to make personalised attacks on me that is fine," he added.

Irish Independent

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