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Mary Lou McDonald: 'I don’t regret at all that we had the election'

Sinn Féin effectively ensured an election by running a candidate.

Ní Riada and McDonald during the campaign.
Ní Riada and McDonald during the campaign.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald says she does not regret that her party essentially ensured a presidential election, now that candidate Liadh Ní Riada has seemingly failed to reach double digits.

Exit polls conducted yesterday have shown that Ní Riada has secured between 7-8% of the vote and will come in third behind incumbent Michael D Higgins and independent Peter Casey. 

One of the exit polls also showed support levels for Sinn Féin at 15%, indicating that Ní Riada only secured the votes of half her party’s supporters. 

Sinn Féin effectively guaranteed a presidential election would take place when it decided in July to run a candidate, announcing that candidate would be Ní Riada over two months later.

Asked on RTÉ News whether she now regretted running a candidate, McDonald said she did not.

“I don’t regret at all that we had the election. Of course I’m disappointing with the result, I would have liked to see us poll more strongly but that’s elections. It was not a mistake to enter this election, in fact I think the mistake is for political parties to imagine that you can step away from the election of the first citizen and just become an observer. I think that’s wrong,” she said.

Speaking on radio, she added:

I just think that we have a position of Uachtaráin na hÉireann, the first citizen, a Constitutional and ceremonial role but it’s the highest political office in the land. It is not just appropriate but necessary that every seven years, or it should be less really every five years, that that position is given an electoral or renewed electoral mandate.

Asked whether she would be blamed for the result, McDonald said as leader she takes responsibility. 

“Will I take the blame for it? I’m tempted to be flippant and say we get the blame for everything. Look, I’m the leader of the party, for me it’s not about blame.”

“There needs to be some perspective applied to this, this is an election and when you enter an election, two things can happen, you can win or you can lose.”

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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