McDonald accuses party leaders of being ‘irresponsible’

Sinn Féin deputy leader says Joan Burton’s IRA claims are ‘cravenly opportunistic’

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. 	File  photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times


Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has accused Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Labour leader Joan Burton of being “irresponsible” and “cravenly opportunistic” following their claims over the alleged resurfacing of the Provisional IRA.

Speaking to The Irish Times during Saturday’s water charges protest, the Dublin Central TD said she believed it was widely accepted that all of the IRA departments had been disbanded and that the organisation had “gone away”.

“It’s 1994 since the first ceasefire, we’ve been through the whole issue of decommissioning and the weapons being put beyond use, the final statement of a ceasing of operations,” she said.

“I think what you’ve witnessed is very irresponsible politicking north and south

“This is absolutely bizarre, for so-called leaders such as Micheál Martin and Joan Burton to be so absolutely irresponsible and so cravenly opportunistic in their public pronouncements.”

Mr Martin last week accused Sinn Féin of jeopardising the peace process after PSNI chief constable George Hamilton stated that the IRA remains an operational entity, although it no longer systematically engages in terrorist activities.

The PSNI chief constable was giving his assessment of the situation after it was alleged that there was an IRA connection in the murder of Kevin McGuigan in Belfast.

Unionists criticised

Ms McDonald also criticised prominent unionists who have called for Sinn Féin’s expulsion from the Stormont Assembly, saying the UUP are using the murders of Kevin McGuigan and former IRA commander Gerard “Jock” Davidson for political capital.

“There’s politicking going on amongst the unionists as well, the UUP are playing for advantage over the DUP and I think the DUP recognise that too.”

With talk of a general election mounting, a number of prominent Fianna Fáil members have appeared to open the door to a possible coalition with Sinn Féin, but Ms McDonald poured cold water over any such prospect due to the parties’ divergent political ideologies.

“That would be a decision for the Sinn Féin Árd Fheis, I think we’ve made clear that we want an alternative, progressive, left-of-centre government. I don’t see Fianna Fáil forming a part of that.”

Fianna Fáil TDs John McGuinness, Colm Keaveney and Éamon Ó Cuív have all refused to rule out forming a coalition with Sinn Féin if necessary.

However, fellow deputy Niall Collins later insisted there is “no way” such a partnership would occur.