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Sinn Féin TDs at Leinster House today. Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie
Opposition

This is Sinn Féin's new front bench

Louise O’Reilly moving from the health brief is the biggest change to the party’s Dáil lineup.

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has announced her party’s front bench spokespeople following the government’s ministerial announcements over the past few days.

With 37 TDs, Sinn Féin is the largest party in opposition in the Dáil by some margin after the government of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and the Green Party was formed on Saturday.

McDonald announced that TDs Pearse Doherty and Eoin Ó Broin would remain as the party’s spokespersons for finance and housing respectively.

Perhaps the most noteworthy change is Louise O’Reilly TD becoming the party’s enterprise and employment spokesperson. The Dublin North TD was the party’s health spokesperson in the previous Dáil, with Waterford’s David Cullinane TD taking the health brief this time. 

This will pit O’Reilly and Cullinane against Tánaiste Leo Varadkar and Minister Stephen Donnelly, who are the ministers in those two departments.

Pádraig MacLochlainn is to be Sinn Féin’s chief whip. 

McDonald also confirmed that Sinn Féin’s other front bench spokespeople are: Mairéad Farrell (public expenditure and reform), Rose Conway-Walsh (higher education), Claire Kerrane (social protection), Kathleen Funchion (children), Matt Carthy (agriculture), Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire (education), Darren O’Rourke (climate action), Martin Kenny (justice), Imelda Munster (media and tourism), John Brady (foreign affairs) and Aengus Ó Snodaigh (Gaeilge). 

McDonald claimed that the spokespeople would make up “the most energetic, the most determined and the most effective opposition in the history of the state”.

Speaking to reporters, McDonald also defended her attendance at the funeral of former IRA man Bobby Storey on Tuesday, which saw thousands of people on the streets of Belfast.

McDonald said she believes that those organising the funeral did their very best to maintain social distancing and that such funerals can present a problem when somebody is a public figure.

“I think particularly at the beginning of this crisis. It was just incredibly difficult for families to lose a loved one and then not to have the ability to say goodbye in the way that you would in normal circumstances,” she said.

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