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McDonald didn't want to give 'credibility to this façade' by putting name forward for Taoiseach

When nominations were being made in the Dail today, Sinn Fein did not put forward McDonald’s name

MARY LOU MCDONALD has said she did not put her name forward today for the nomination of Taoiseach as as she did not want to give “credibility to this façade”, referring to the Taoiseach rotation. 

Leo Varadkar was elected as the new Taoiseach earlier today, with Micheál Martin is taking over the role of Tanaiste. 

When nominations were being made in the Dail today, Sinn Fein did not put forward McDonald’s name, as is usual. 

In a wide ranging interview with The Journal, McDonald explained why:

“Well, very simply, what’s happening today is a very cosmetic shuffling of the deck. The handing over of the baton from Micheal Martin to Leo Varadkar is unprecedented.

“I actually think the people should take the decision as to who is Taoiseach. I think we’re in a very strange scenario now where the government will have the pretense of change, but actually no change.

“And we’ve heard already, the fact that they’re doubling down on their plans on housing and in other areas, plans that are very obviously failing. So we had to make a decision on it. And to be honest with you, rather than give credibility to this façade, our view is what we need is not a change of Taoiseach, we need a change of government. That of course, means a general election.”


She hit out at the government’s housing policies, while acknowledging that if Sinn Fein gets into government “things can’t be sorted overnight” and will take time.  

The State has to lead the charge, she said.

“You cannot just constantly rely on the private sector, which of course it has a role in the housing market. I’m not disputing that, but the lead role at the time of a housing emergency? No, that has to be the State,” McDonald said.

Although the parties in government have been saying for two and a half years that housing is the biggest social issue, “the actions don’t mirror that”, she said.

“There has not been the all of government singular focus and drive to actually get the the houses built,” she said. 

Jonathan Dowdall

Much focus has been on McDonald in recent weeks due to a former Sinn Fein councillor giving evidence in the trial of Gerry Hutch. 

She previously told this website that she was “profoundly shocked” to hear that Dowdall was involved in gangland crime. 

She reiterated that point today, stating:

If I had had any notion of what he would go on to be capable of, he would not have been anywhere near any of us.

Dowdall was a Sinn Féin councillor in 2014, but stepped down that year amid claims of bullying. In 2018, he was jailed - along with his father – for torturing a man they suspected of trying to defraud them, in January 2015.

Dowdall (44) – a married father of four with an address at Navan Road, Cabra, Dublin 7 – was due to stand trial for the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel, alongside his friend Gerard ‘The Monk’ Hutch. However, Dowdall pleaded guilty in advance of the trial to a lesser charge of facilitating the Hutch gang by making a hotel room available ahead of the murder.

“Now, we now know, the measure of the man. I didn’t know, we [Sinn Fein] didn’t know… this guy had a thriving business, and a client list, a lovely family, wife in the civil service. I mean, there was nothing that would have suggested to me, that I would be suspicious of, nothing at all,” she said. 

When asked if she is concerned about how people might view how a Sinn Fein councillor was perceived to have connections with dissident republicans in the north, she said “the conflict is over” and dissident groups should “put their weapons down”. 

Dissident republicans targeting SF

She added that dissident republican groups also target members of her party. 

“They periodically threaten us. They threaten people like us,” she said.

“So, that’s not acceptable at all at all,” she said.

In respect to Dowdall’s conviction for torturing a man in 2018, McDonald said it was “absolutely grotesque”.

“I can’t fathom how any human being would do that,” she said.

Gangland characters are not glamorous at all, said McDonald.

“It’s thuggery and it creates misery and it creates fear in communities that are amongst the poorest communities in this state. So everybody who knows me knows my position, I could not be clearer,” she said. 

McDonald said that people that know her know that she would not tolerate behaviour such as Dowdall’s. 

“And I would not tolerate having somebody near me who behaves like that,” she said. 

McDonald reiterated that she did not have any hint that Dowdall could behave in this way, stating had she known “he wouldn’t have been in Sinn Fein, he would not have been running for public office, and he would not have been anywhere near me”. 

Addressing the photograph of McDonald and Dowdall together at an event that has been in circulation, she said she knows a “big deal” has been made about it. 

She said she has her picture taken with thousands of people, stating that it is common place for the party leader to get their photo taken with candidates.

“But there’s nobody more angry, really, as to his conduct and who he turned out to be in the end, nobody more alarmed, nobody more angry, and nobody more clear that in the end, the criminal justice system has to apprehend people like him.

“It doesn’t matter who they are, where they come from, that type of behaviour has to be called out.”

People involved in gangland crime “need to be put behind bars”, added McDonald.

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