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No, Mary Lou did not avoid a Trinity Sinn Féin event because of a Maíria Cahill protest

The party has dismissed reports McDonald cancelled her appearance at an event last night in the wake of a protest.

SINN FÉIN’S DEPUTY leader Mary Lou McDonald was last night reported to have pulled out of visit to Trinity college in the wake of a protest by a group supporting abuse victim Maíria Cahill.

Both the University Times and Trinity News reported that McDonald did not attend the meeting organised by Trinity Sinn Féin with up to 20 people holding a protest outside the Hamilton Building on the college campus.

McDonald had been due to address the college branch on the question: ‘Is Sinn Féin Ready for Government’:

mary trinners Source: Trinity Sinn Féin via Facebook

However she did not show for the event with senator Trevor Ó Clochartaigh speaking instead.

Amid suggestions that McDonald’s cancelled appearance was connected to the protest outside – she faced similar accusations over the cancellation of a planned appearance at Queen’s University in Belfast last week – we’ve attempted to clarify matters this morning.

It’s understood that between 10 and 20 protesters showed up outside the Hamilton Building on campus last night holding ‘I Support Mairia’ signs.

We understand that while it was not organised by any other political party youth wing in Trinity there were members of Labour Youth, Young Fine Gael and Ógra Fianna Fáil there.

“The protesters were affiliated to a lot of the political parties on campus. Some of them attended the event,” Sinn Féin councillor and Trinity student Jonathan Graham said.

Speaking to this morning, McDonald explained that she did not avoid the event, but rather some more pressing matters came up in Leinster House.

“I got booked for that event in Trinity a couple of weeks ago and at that stage I didn’t realise that the committee stage of Lobbying Bill would be coming up. Then in addition the Finance Bill was being debated [in the Dáil] and there would be votes on it.

When all of this crystalised in my mind the lads in Trinity were informed I wouldn’t be able to go and Trevor Ó Clochartaigh took the meeting instead.”

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said: “Mary Lou’s office contacted Trinity Sinn Féin early yesterday morning to explain her scheduling difficulties and to make alternative arrangements.”

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Ó Clochartaigh said he arrived at the event at around 6.50pm and said there were no protesters outside that he could see.

“There was no hassle at the meeting. I walked straight in, they probably wouldn’t recognise me anyway, but they weren’t in the lecture room, and they weren’t outside the door,” he told this morning.

Around 30 people attended the meeting with Graham saying a lot of people left after they realised McDonald was not going to be there.

“There has been a narrative over the last couple of weeks of her avoiding protests and that’s simply untrue,” he added.

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Hugh O'Connell

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