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Mary Lou McDonald denies Sinn Féin leadership under threat following elections

Mary Lou McDonald denies Sinn Féin leadership under threat following elections

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has insisted her position is not under threat despite her party losing almost half its local council seats and potentially two of its three MEPs in this week's elections.

Ms McDonald rejected the view that she is under increasing pressure as she arrived at the midlands north west European elections count centre at the TF Hotel in Castlebar, Co Mayo, this afternoon.

Speaking to reporters alongside Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy who is likely to be elected under the quota later today and party finance spokesperson Pearse Doherty, Ms McDonald admitted the results have been difficult.

However, while saying the party must "take stock" of what happened and have the "humility" to acknowledge if mistakes were made, she said her leadership is not under threat.

"No, I don’t believe so," Ms McDonald said when asked.

I believe when you take on to lead an organisation such as ours we’re a big organisation, we’re a national organisation. You have to steel yourself for the days that things don’t go your way and that really is a more direct test of a leader.

"Because it’s easy to lead when you’re on a surge, when things are going your way. The test comes when things don’t go right. The test comes when you have a situation that’s difficult how do you handle that and how do you bring your party with you.

"And I’m determined to do that. I’m determined that we will learn the lessons and I’m determined that we will be back again. Any seat that we have lost let me say we will be back to win those seats back," Ms McDonald said.

The Sinn Féin leader separately said the way her party must recover is by taking "stock" and having "humility" in the face of the results.

"Well how you recover is you take stock, you have the humility to accept when you have had a bad day out and you have the wisdom to accept there are lessons to be learned.

"This is politics and this is political activism, and you will have days that go very right for you and you will have days that don't go very right for you.

"And you have to have the resilience as a political organisation and as a political leadership to be able to weather all of those circumstances and I am very sure, not just for me as Uachtaráin Sinn Féin, but I am very sure as a collective leadership that we are more than capable of steadying themselves," she said.

Ms McDonald was speaking alongside Mr Doherty, who has previously been rumoured as a future party leader. When both were asked together about a potential future leadership change, Ms McDonald spoke at length on the issue while Mr Doherty did not.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MEP Matt Carthy - who was also at Ms McDonald's arrival - is likely to be elected in the coming hours, the latest sign of which was Ms McDonald's arrival itself.

In the eleventh count in the constituency just after 1am this morning, Greens candidate Saoirse McHugh was eliminated, with her 61,957 votes currently being distributed in the twelfth count which is expected this afternoon.

Before the twelfth count, the standing of those remaining in the race - which has to date only elected Fine Gael MEP Mairead McGuinness and has a four seater quota of 118,986 - was the following:

  • Luke 'Ming' Flanagan, Ind, received (+2,966) 97,319
  • Matt Carthy, Sinn Féin, (+974) 84,825
  • Maria Walsh, Fine Gael, (+4,282) 80,338
  • Peter Casey, Independent, (+1,875) 66,555
  • Brendan Smith, Fianna Fáil, (+17,712) 64,532

It is expected the counts marathon will conclude tonight.

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