McDonald says Micheál Martin is ‘playing a very cynical game’

McDonald says Martin’s position of not entering government with SF is ‘arrogant’

Mary Lou McDonald speaking at a business breakfast in west Belfast on Friday. Photograph: Amanda Ferguson/The Irish Times

Mary Lou McDonald speaking at a business breakfast in west Belfast on Friday. Photograph: Amanda Ferguson/The Irish Times

 

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused Micheál Martin of “playing a very cynical game” after the Fianna Fáil leader rejected the idea of entering government with her party.

Speaking ahead of a business breakfast in west Belfast on Friday the Dublin Central TD dismissed comments made by Mr Martin where he has said Sinn Féin are “IRA apologists” and “cult like”.

Ms McDonald told The Irish Times: “I think Micheál Martin is playing a very cynical game.

“I think Micheál Martin’s position is very arrogant

“It is not down to Micheál Martin to decide ultimately who will or will not form part of a government.

“The first requirement for anybody to enter a governmental arrangement is to get a sufficient mandate and that is down to the people.

“Micheál Martin has one vote like me and I think it is all down to political positioning and politicking and all the rest of it.”

She also rejected the suggestion the Southern electorate could be put off when they look North and see Sinn Féin has been unable to reach a deal with the DUP to enter government at Stormont following the collapse of the Executive in January.

“No, I think people clearly see we have issues to resolve.

“People are very aware that we entered into a government with Ian Paisley, a thing nobody would ever have believed possible.

“People know that, not least Martin McGuinness, spent 10 years making that Executive work.

“Clearly now we have fundamental issues that have been previously agreed that have to be implanted.

“No fair, objective observer of us misunderstands for a minute our seriousness and desire to form part of an Executive.

“We will have an Executive.”

‘There is a deal to be done’

On whether she thought government would be restored in the North this year she said: “I hope so. I think we can have it if there is the political will, there is a deal to be done. But we have set out the terms and conditions for that.”

During a speech focused on Brexit and Irish unity Ms McDonald told the audience gathered at 26 West in the Kennedy Centre that the Good Friday Agreement must be attached as a protocol to any withdrawal agreement between the EU and Britain.

She also said the north must remain within the Customs Union and the Single Market.

“This will not only protect the human rights provisions of the agreement for citizens, it would ensure that all Assembly legislation is in line with EU laws and regulations,” she said.

“The people of the North voted against Brexit and must not be dragged out of the EU against their democratic will.

“The Irish government has a particular responsibility to defend that vote and to act in the best interests of all people on this island.”

UK prime minister Theresa May is due to make a major Brexit speech in Florence on Friday.

Ms McDonald said if she does seek a “€20 billion euro divorce” with the EU in exchange for a deal that allows Britain remain in the single market and customs union “it is further evidence that Britain is beginning at last to wake up to the importance of the EU to the British economy, and the shocking flaws and jeopardy in her governments drive for a hard Brexit”.

“The notion that Britain could cut and run was always a pig in a poke,” she said.

Ms McDonald said it is for the Irish Government to accept that the best protection for the island of Ireland in any post Brexit arrangement is for the north to be designated special status within the EU.

She said the Government must make “a strong case for Designated Special Status for the North to ensure all of Ireland remains within the EU”.