Mary Lou McDonald dismisses claims over Gerry Adams’s IRA past as election ploy
Controversy over claims Sinn Féin leader ordered ex-IRA member Peter Rogers to transport explosives
Sinn Fein’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDoanld with European candidate Lynn Boylan after signing her election nomination papers in the Dublin Sheriff’s Office yesterday. Photograph: David Sleator/The Irish Times
Controversies centred on allegations that Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams was in the IRA become “all the more attractive around election times”, the party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has claimed.
Her comments come after a former IRA member said Mr Adams and Martin McGuinness must be “suffering from Alzheimer’s” if they can’t remember ordering him to transport explosives to Britain.
Sinn Féin has denied the claim made to the BBC by ex-IRA member Peter Rogers that he was given direct orders by Mr Adams and Mr McGuinness to drive IRA explosives to Britain in 1980.
Asked about the claims while campaigning in Dublin yesterday with Lynn Boylan, the party’s European Parliament candidate in the capital, Ms McDonald said such queries are a “recurring theme in media circles and I noticed that it becomes all the more attractive around election times”.
She said Ms Boylan is more focussed on questions on “social and economic issues around life in this city, around Ireland’s place in Europe. That is the nature of political debate and we are big enough and bold enough to know that”.
However, Brian Hayes, Fine Gael’s Dublin candidate, said Sinn Féin is “utterly mired” in violence. He said “the whole raison d’etre of Sinn Féin” is “to deny, deny and deny even where facts are presented to show the opposite . . . We’re dealing with a political party here that has done everything possible to muddy the waters and to not give the truth in terms of their involvement in the atrocities and the murder machine in the last four decades.”
Ms Boylan accused the Labour Party of “desperation” and “panic” for recommending its canvassers to tell voters that Sinn Féin is aligned to “marginal extremists in the European Parliament, some of whom wish the Berlin Wall had never come down”.
Sinn Féin is part of the left-wing GUE/NGL group, while Labour is aligned with the Party of European Socialists (PES). “Labour, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil MEPs, along with their political groupings, have copper-fastened austerity, failed to adequately invest in real economic stimulus, are dismantling public service provision and have protected bondholders at every turn,” Ms Boylan said.