Fintan O’Toole: The enigma of Mary Lou McDonald
The Sinn Féin leader has a talent for intimacy, but she remains utterly mysterious
Mary Lou McDonald with fellow Sinn Féin TDs at Leinster House on Thursday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Who is Mary Lou? The Sinn Féin leader projects intimacy well enough to have been accorded the ultimate accolade of first-name terms with the electorate: “voting for Mary Lou” was much easier for many people than “voting for Sinn Féin”.
In person, she has a warm, relaxed, easy presence that seems the opposite of enigmatic. In public, she has an abrasive side, but one that is at least as likely to endear her to those who admire a tough-minded woman than it is to alienate the objects of her wrath. She seems straight. We feel we know where we are with her.