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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke at a rally in Liberty Hall this evening
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald spoke at a rally in Liberty Hall this evening
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

Mary Lou McDonald: Sinn Féin will not take part in protest calling for change of government

People Before Profit are organising a protest for change on 7 March.
Feb 25th 2020, 10:31 PM 40,527 134

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said her party will not partake in demonstrations or protests against Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

People Before Profit are holding a demonstration on 7 March calling for a change to Ireland’s government.

Posters for the event which were distributed outside the meeting describe it as a march against Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael returning to government.

But speaking at Sinn Fein’s public meeting in Dublin’s Liberty Hall this evening, McDonald answered a question on whether her party would join the demonstrations by saying it would instead seek to negotiate with other parties about forming a Government.

“You don’t need our permission to go and organise and protest,” she said.

“I would say this to you – the focus of our work is on negotiations with other parties and of course talking to all of you and engaging with you.

“We need to have conversations with all of you but also detailed conversations with other parties and then it comes down to numbers because this is a numbers game, it is about policy but it is also about political will.”

‘Respect our mandate’

More than 800 people attended the party’s first public meeting in Co Cork on Monday night, aimed at drumming up support for them to be in government.

Tonight’s event saw Liberty Hall packed to capacity, with the party’s finance spokesman Pearse Doherty having to address those who were unable to make it into the venue outside. 

During the event, McDonald also criticised the leaders of Fine Gael and Fianna Fail for refusing to meet Sinn Féin for government formation talks.

She said: “I have a message for the leaders of those parties who have decided not to speak to us. I say this: we respect your mandate and now it is time that you respect ours.

“I think it is very clear that we will talk to everybody because that is what adults do. I say to them, listen to the voices of the electorate and understand this.

“The vote for change was a vote to get Fianna Fail and Fine Gael out of government and not to put them back in.”

 

McDonald said the public meetings and conversations with the public will continue, adding that the party and its supporters wanted “real change”.

Meanwhile, the party’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill told the crowd that Leo Varadkar and Micheal Martin have “done nothing” to prepare for a referendum on a united Ireland.

O’Neill also argued that planning for a poll on a united Ireland must begin and she expects one will be held within the next five years.

“Change is coming. It is an inevitable position that we are all in,” O’Neill said.

“I have no doubt in my mind that in the immediate future we will be voting in a border poll.”

Contains reporting from Stephen McDermott.

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