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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 5°C

The Candidate Podcast: Mary Lou says undertone of 'sexism' at play with talk of 'shadowy figures' pulling her strings

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald answers YOUR general election questions.

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mary Mary Lou McDonald sits down with's Political Correspondent Christina Finn for the latest episode of The Candidate Podcast.

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald has said there is an “undertone of sexism and misogyny” at play with the talk that “shadowy figures” are pulling her strings. 

Speaking to’s general election podcast The Candidate, McDonald said she is not “a bogeywoman”, adding that the narrative of someone else pulling the strings while she and Michelle O’Neill were at the helm in the north and Republic only surfaced since the two women took leadership of Sinn Féin.

“I have a strong sense that there is at least an undertone of sexism and misogyny in suggesting that our strings are pulled. I’m very stubborn. I’m very willful. I know my own mind and God help anybody who tries to pull my strings or tell me what to do,” she said. 

McDonald said she could “land on no other conclusion” other than gender is at play when such comments are made. 

When Gerry Adams was the leader of Sinn Féin, McDonald said the media were constantly calling for him to step aside. However, she said the accusation was never levelled at Adams when he was the party’s president. 

“I’m not somebody’s puppet. I’m a grown-up woman. And I know my own mind and Michelle similarly,” she said. 

Coalition government 

On the issue of Sinn Féin entering government, McDonald said she believes there is a possibility that Fianna Fáil will open the door to a coalition with her party after the election numbers come through. 

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin has continuously ruled out entering into government with Sinn Féin.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar told The Candidate Podcast this week, that Martin will renege on his promise, and will go into government with Sinn Féin in order to become Taoiseach. 

When asked about the possibility that Martin will have discussions with his party, roll  back on his promise not to talk to Sinn Féin and end up going into government with her party after the election, McDonald said: 

I mean it is [a possibility]. I think any number of his colleagues are on the record actually contradicting him and saying, ‘well, we actually  should talk to Sinn Féin and so on”. But more broadly, it’s not a sustainable position for anybody to say that you will absolutely, before the fact, rule out and discount the party that a huge and substantial number of people vote for.
I mean, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of people who vote for Sinn Féin, we represent them. So never mind me or us as personalities. I think there is something deeply problematic with the political establishment saying to the people that we represent that they don’t count, that they can have no opportunity to have their voice at the Cabinet table.

She added:

“I think there is a simple truth that the people are in charge, they cast their votes. The results are what they are, and then a government has to be formed. And I think grown-up people, smart people, understand that it’s at that stage that people have to decide what is possible, and for me, it’s about the programme for government, it’s about the what of government, more so than the who.”

When asked if Martin should re-think ruling out Sinn Féin after the election, she said there is a “realpolitik” in this election. 

“Everybody will have to think very long and very hard and at the end of the day, we need a government that actually serves the people,” she said: 

Does she want to be Tánaiste?

“This for me isn’t about a job. I’d like to change things, I want to make my contribution. And I’m not just saying that as a cliché, this isn’t a career ladder for me, this isn’t a career aspiration. This is about changing things fundamentally, at a time when there are big issues confronting us here in this State.”

You can listen to the full interview with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald where she discusses coalitions, why her party only ran 42 candidates, tax policy, crime the Special Criminal Court and her party’s Ard Comhairle, below or you can find it here

The Candidate / SoundCloud


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