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My Week: Mary Lou McDonald


Sinn Fein's Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sinn Fein's Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Steve Humphreys

Sinn Fein's Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Steve Humphreys

Monday: Gerry said what on Twitter? He used what word? You’re joking me, right? This is just something the papers have invented to make Gerry look bad again. Show me the dummy.

I’m handed an iPhone. It’s one of the new models that Joan Burton thinks the poor shouldn’t have in case they get ideas above their station. Sod that, I say. Being an Irish republican means never having to say sorry for having a top-of-the-range smartphone.

There it is for all to see — “Ballymurphy N*****”. Only the eejit didn’t even have the cop on to use asterisks. 

“Jesus, Gerry. What were you thinking?” (“What was he drinking, more like?” someone else interjects.)

Gerry insists he only had one glass of wine with dinner before tweeting.

 “Are you sure it was a nomal-sized glass and not a fruit bowl?” I mutter.

I’m used to cleaning up after Gerry these days. A woman’s work is never done.

He says not to worry, he’s going to do a series of media interviews throughout the day to put things right.

“What are you going to tell them?” I ask, terrified.

“I’m going to say it was entirely wrong of me to use such an offensive word.”


“Then I’m going to say that it’s not really as bad when I use the word because being Irish is basically the same as being an African slave. And when anyone points out that I’m talking through my balaclava, I’m going to bring up Cromwell.”

It’s like banging my head against a brick wall.

Pearse Doherty points out that it could be worse. At least Gerry wasn’t tweeting about his “sexiness” in the middle of a child abuse scandal, like he did that other time. Or sending a book to his niece dedicated to the father who abused her.

He also suggests that I should teach Gerry the special “Mary Lou face” I always use on journalists where I purse my lips tightly together to show who’s boss.

Close those lips, Gerry. That’s it. Now keep them that way, for God’s sake.

Tuesday: “I’ve never seen myself as white,” Gerry tells local radio up in Louth.

Why did no one warn me about this? I left explicit instructions at party HQ last night before going to bed: No. More. Interviews.

What’s he on about, anyway? If we’re not careful, Gerry will start telling everyone he’s actually an African American, like that daft bint who told everyone she wasn’t white, despite having fewer black genes in her ancestry than there were good ideas in the SF manifesto.

He’ll be growing an afro, listening to gangsta rap, and calling us his “posse” next.

“You must be scarlet for him,” reporters say.

“No,” I reply, “my face is always this bright colour.”

Wednesday:  “Now Gerry,” I say, “you’re going to be on The Ryan Tubridy Show. You know what you’ve got to say. You’re very sorry and you’ll never do it again.”

“Yo,” says he.


“Don’t be dissing me.”

This whole “not white” thing has really gone to his head. We send him off with a packed lunch and his bus fare with orders to come right back when he’s done.

Hours later, I leave a party meeting to hear that he spent his time on air telling Tubs about his teddy bear and rubber duckies. He also admitted that he dreams about the Late Late Show host. We’ll be lucky if Ryan doesn’t apply for a restraining order by the weekend.

We despatch Gerry to Belfast whilst I lead the press conference denouncing the deal on the formation of a new government.

Admit it, I look good, don’t I? I don’t use the N word. I don’t talk about ducks. And still the army council allegedly doesn’t want me as SF leader. Is it because I is a Southerner?

I say the deal will not deliver for the Irish people on the issues of health, housing and public services.

I could point out that SF sitting on the opposition benches refusing to do a deal until we get a majority in the Dail does nothing for the Irish people either, but I don’t. I keep my mouth shut. See how easy it is, Gerry?

Thursday: Today’s assembly elections in Northern Ireland are the first chance for people born after the Good Friday Agreement to vote. They turn out in huge numbers to show how much has changed by, er, voting en masse for the same bunch of hardliners who caused the problem in the first place.

I refer, of course, to the unionists, not SF, which is an entirely progressive and forward-thinking party, even if we do have a leader who won’t shut up about the bloody Penal Laws.

I myself made a video to A: encourage voters in the North to get out and show support for SF, and B: remind Catholics up there who the hell I am, because there’s nothing more partitionist than a Belfast Shinner who’s being told what to do by a former Fianna Failer who studied English at Trinity.

“You know it will make a difference,” I tell voters. Even though we all know it won’t because the same messers always get in.

Worried about gangland crime in my Dublin Central constituency, I also issue a press release calling for extra gardai. “People are living in fear and that is not acceptable,” I say.

Unless they’re living in fear of the IRA, obviously, because they were “decent people”, as I’ve said before.

Say what you like about the Provies, but they always made sure the trains didn’t run on time, as they left bombs on the line in the name of a united Ireland.

Friday: Finally, we seem to be in the clear. I give the party permission to start using the G word again.

“Don’t speak too soon,” says Pearse. “Gerry’s written an article in today’s Irish News up North.”

“How bad is it?” I ask.

“Put it this way. The Wolfe Tones are turning it into a song as we speak.”

If only we knew some group who could take him away and put him under house arrest for a few days until this row blows over.

But we don’t. And even if we did, we wouldn’t, because that would be wrong.

Tempting, but wrong.

“There’s no chance of me being Taoiseach then?” asks Gerry as the Dail sits again.

“No, Gerry, there bloody well isn’t. Now sit down and shut up.” I’ve had about enough of this week. It’s put me right off my prawns.

*As imagined by Eilis O’Hanlon

Sunday Independent