Voters more interested in food on table than Adams arrest

Sinn Féin has claimed voters are more interested in putting food on the table than in party leader Gerry Adams’ arrest in connection with the Belfast murder of mum-of-10 Jean McConville.

The party launched its manifesto for the European elections yesterday and said Mr Adams’ arrest over the 1972 killing had in fact “galvanised” supporters ahead of Friday week’s elections.

MEP candidates also claimed the Coalition was failing to draw down substantial EU funds and had one of the worst records for accessing structural grants from Brussels.

Recent polls have suggested the party could take a seat for candidates Lynn Boylan (Dublin), Liadh Ní Riada (South) and Matt Carthy (Midlands North-West) in all three constituencies.

Party election hopefuls denied Mr Adams’ questioning by the PSNI had damaged their campaigns.

Ms Ní Riada, a mum-of-three and a candidate in Ireland South, said: “Obviously, not belittling Jean McConville in any sense, but when you consider that it happened over 40 years ago, although people would be sympathetic, they are more concerned about the reality of living lives themselves which is not being able to put food on the table, not being able to put a roof over their heads, not being able to put kids in school.”

Asked if his arrest had hit Sinn Féin support, Mr Adams replied: “It has galvanised our party workers and election team. I find a very warm welcome when I’ve been out and about canvassing.”

He denies any role in the murder of Ms McConville.

Sinn Féin denied they were anti-EU but said they were EU sceptics.

Deputy party leader Mary Lou McDonald said if candidates got elected they would push for Ireland to take back more autonomy on spending and budgets.

Dublin candidate Lynn Boylan claimed the Coalition had a worse record for drawing down valuable European Investment Bank funds compared to the previous Fianna Fáil-led government.

If elected, she said she would campaign to access greater amounts of EU funds for communities.

She also claimed fewer under-25s were now employed compared to when Fine Gael and Labour took power in 2011.

Candidates also said, if elected, they would campaign for a better deal on Ireland’s banking debt at EU level.

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