Mary Lou McDonald: ‘Our family wasn’t broken . . . in fact it was very complete’

Sinn Féin leader on family, privilege and a rapid ascent in politics after a late start

Mary Lou McDonald photographed by Charles McQuillan/Getty

Mary Lou McDonald photographed by Charles McQuillan/Getty

The Sinn Féin party leader on family, privilege and a rapid ascent in politics after a late start

In February 2020, Sinn Féin pulled off one of the most extraordinary political feats in 90 years, when its president Mary Lou McDonald led the party from the doldrums to receive the highest share of votes in the general election and transform the political landscape.

Since then McDonald has been widely tipped to become Ireland’s first female taoiseach. She has been described as an enigma who soared through the ranks of Sinn Féin in a very short time, having been a latecomer to party politics. 

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