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The candidate

Liadh Ní Riada says bullying 'was a problem' in Sinn Féin and was partly about age

The presidential hopeful says “a thick skin” is needed in politics.


PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE LIADH Ní Riada has said that “there was a problem” of bullying within Sinn Féin and that it was perhaps to do with a younger age profile of its members. 

Speaking on’s The Candidate podcast, the MEP said that issues within Sinn Féin were “no different” to other parties but that “the level of maturity” of people in parties can also play a role.

“Yes, look there were issues. I’m sure every party has issues with it, and we’re no different from any other party in that regard, but Mary Lou has put structures and processes in place to deal with that effectively,” Ní Riada said in the interview. 

There was a problem. I think myself some of it had to do with, and this is no reflection on the people who said they were bullied, bullies shouldn’t be tolerated on any level. But I think they were quite young, and I think it’s because we attract a younger voter I suppose and we try and encourage young people to come on board because it’s their future we’re talking about, they need to be at that table.

“But it’s also about recognising that you do need that certain level of maturity when you’re in public life, you have to develop a bit of a thick skin and maybe those support structures weren’t there. Particularly among the younger people that have left the party or that have had issues with the party,” Ní Riada said. 

During the lengthy interview, Ni Riada also spoke about her reasons for running for the presidency and said that if she won she would address the Oireachtas more frequently.  

She also spoke about her hope that the country is have “a big conversation” on uniting the island and that as president she would hope to “put forward a new vision” about how that would look. 

debate 196_90556333 Presidential candidate Liadh Ni Ríada. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

Asked about Sinn Féin’s treatment of Mairia Cahill, Ní Riada said that her party had to “learn lessons” from how it dealt with Cahill’s abuse allegations against a former IRA member.

“What happened to Mairia Cahill was dreadful, I can’t even imagine as a woman what she’s gone through,” Ní Riada said.

“And I don’t think that anything I say or that Mary Lou says, or anyone else says, can go far enough to apologise for that, you’re never going to undo that.”

And I think it’s how we learn lessons and treat people going forward. And for Mairia Cahill that’s about providing whatever support structures, whatever information that needs to be had, needs to be there for her. 

The Candidate / SoundCloud

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Ni Riada also been asked repeatedly about her stance on the HPV vaccine after she told a radio interview in 2016 that she made the decision for one of her daughters not to receive it. 

Speaking on the podcast, Ní Riada said that she fully supports the vaccine and that her concerns related to a lack of information give to parents about it.

“I think as other parents might remember in 2016, it was a very short turnaround, you have something like 24 hours before you could hand in your note. And that was the issue with me, that I didn’t think it sufficed or satisfied me as a parent knowing exactly what effects, what benefits and all of that. I didn’t feel it was comprehensive enough.”

She added:

I’m really glad since then that the uptake has increased hugely and that the HSE has in fact updated all of that. So there is no reason for anyone out there to have any concerns about the HPV vaccine. I fully endorse it, I hope they extend it to boys because anything that’s going to spare anyone from getting cancer. My mother died from breast cancer when I was 10, my first husband died of cancer, so I know the ravages of cancer very well. So if you had told me then there was a vaccine to prevent that, of course I’d be leaping on it.

“The same as I am now for HPV, but my concern was the lack of information. And now that the information has been updated and we’re all absolutely confident of it, I completely and fully endorse it. I was never against it, it was purely on the lack of information that I had a concern as a parent.” 

You can listen to each episode of The Candidate here

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