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Mary Lou McDonald pictured today Jane Matthews

McDonald says 'traitors and sell outs' label directed at Sinn Féin not defining feature of campaign

The party today launched its European elections manifesto.

MARY LOU MCDONALD has said her party is receiving a positive response on the doors from voters when out canvassing and that the anger and disquiet at Sinn Féin is only from a small minority. 

McDonald was speaking in Temple Bar this morning at the launch of Sinn Féin’s European election manifesto.

In recent months and weeks, support for Sinn Féin in the polls has been sliding and there has been a noticeable trend on social media of members of the public labelling Sinn Féin as “traitors and sell-outs”.

Various Sinn Féin politicians, including Mary Lou McDonald and TD Eoin O Broin, have also been accosted in public with the videos then posted on social media. During these incidents, “traitors” can be heard aggressively shouted at them.

McDonald was asked today where she thinks this accusation is coming from and dismissed it as only being from a vocal minority.

“You’re always going to get, you know individual, very, very trenchant views and you know what, that’s okay. We live in a democracy, people are free to express themselves as they wish,” McDonald said.

McDonald admitted that there has been some anger on the doors, but said this stems from disquiet over failures by the Government – predominantly on housing, health and the cost of living.

She added that there is also some anger over immigration.

McDonald said despite this, she personally is being greeted with “a welcome on the mat” when canvassing across the country. 

“From my own constituency and the places I represent, I’m in and out of these places for decades. We’ve very deep personal relationships and some of these places have been left behind again and again and again. 

“There’s a welcome on the mat for me. And I think that is the experience [of other Sinn Féin candidates],” she said.

“Are you going to get people randomly [shouting these names]? Yes, I think we probably all have had that experience. I think all of us, including the media, need to be careful not to overstate that.”

“To say it is happening hither thither and yon is not true – it is not the defining feature of the campaign,” McDonald added.

Tiny percentage are abusive

Senator Lynn Boylan said there is “a tiny, tiny percentage of people who are abusive” but “most people very fair and compassionate”.

Councillor Daithi Doolan said it is “a very vocal minority” who are “loud, brash and angry”.

Housing and the cost-of-living are the two prominent issues coming up on the doors, reporters were told today, followed by issues such as immigration. 

The party leader was also questioned about her views on migration, with McDonald stating that there has been a failure from government to have conversations with communities. 

The Temporary Protection Directive for Ukrainians comes to an end in March 2025, with McDonald stating the date will come around quickly. She questioned what the government’s plan is in the longer term, stating she imagines that Ukrainians will have to go into the standard international protection system, which is under pressure. 

When asked what she would do, McDonald said it is her personal view is that Ukrainians who are working in critical areas it needs their situation regularised by means of work permits.

“I think that would be the smart thing to do. We have a labour shortage here in many critical parts of the economy. And I think so many people are playing a fantastic and constructive role,” she added. 

Sinn Féin is a ‘Eurocritical’ party

McDonald said that Sinn Féin is “Eurocritical” rather than Eurosceptic, stating that her party’s European election candidates will “push for a transformed social” European Union.

The party currently has one MEP, Chris MacManus in Midlands-North West.

They are running Mr MacManus and Michelle Gildernew in that five-seater constituency, senator Lynn Boylan and Councillor Daithi Doolan in Dublin, and TD Kathleen Funchion and Paul Gavan in Ireland South.

“I want us to be the largest party full stop and I want us to be the party of government, absolutely,” McDonald said when asked about her hopes for the local elections.

Asked about the timing of a general election, McDonald said “my money has always been on the autumn”.

“I don’t see this government staggering to the finish line in the springtime,” she added. 

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