Mary Lou McDonald dismisses election pact with Labour

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has appeared to rule out any post-general election coalition with Labour, in response to weekend criticism that her party is a “populist” group pretending to stand for leftist ideals.

Speaking during Labour’s annual conference, Tánaiste Joan Burton and deputy leader Alan Kelly repeatedly hit out at Sinn Féin, with the latter suggesting the opposition rival would “abandon” those in genuine need if they enter power.

Sinn Féin has previously ruled out going into government with Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil, meaning it has few realistic options for a future coalition.

Responding at the launch of the motions for Sinn Féin’s ard fheis in Derry this weekend, Ms McDonald said Labour was showing “arrogance” in assuming it decides who represents the left, and that her party has no interest in joining with Labour “in its current frame of mind”.

“I could not foresee the circumstances. They seem quite happy with Fine Gael ... it’s all hunky dory,” she said, adding Labour supporters must decide “whether they did stop Enda’s gallop or became collaborators”.

Despite the shortening coalition options available to Sinn Féin should their poll standing translate into votes, Ms McDonald said her party is “not a bit player” and wants to enter Government.

Sinn Féin’s ard fheis will take place on Friday and Saturday, and is expected to be dominated by issues including by what the party will do if it is in a position to enter power; abortion; and the party’s ongoing opposition to an array of austerity measures.

While Ms McDonald has backed motions calling for the repeal of the eight amendment and in support of fatal foetal abnormality abortions, the issues are likely to lead to a public row with pro-life TD Peadar Toibin, who was suspended in 2013 over the issue.

When questioned over the potential disagreement, Sinn Féin’s deputy leader said everyone will be allowed to express their view as “we don’t operate a command structure”.

Ms McDonald has also responded to weekend comments by Mairia Cahill, who said Sinn Féin are still failing to help provide information about her sexual abuse and the party is trying to discredit her after receiving a courage award at Labour’s annual conference.

Ms McDonald said her party is “committed to the resolution” of cases involving “all persons who suffered” abuse, “irrespective” of the alleged perpetrators’ backgrounds.

Motion on showing flag ‘due respect’

The often exuberant Sinn Féin celebrations after an election count success may be no more, if those behind a motion due to be debated at the party’s ard fheis this weekend have their way.

Under a proposal put forward by Tipperary-based Piarais McCann cumann, Sinn Féin candidates and supporters will be asked that in future they show the national flag “due respect” after a ballot victory.

Boisterous Sinn Féin success bubbling over at election counts to the frustration of others has become a common scene across the country in recent years, with a notorious event in 2007 at the RDS in Dublin involving then Tánaiste and PDs leader Michael McDowell.

However, under a motion due to be heard on Friday evening, Tipperary members say it is now time to address the atmosphere and tone down victory celebrations.

“This ard fheis proposes that our national flag should be shown due respect and not be thrown around by the party’s elected representatives and their supporters,” it states.

Speaking about the proposal yesterday, Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said she supported the motion as the “flag has to be shown due respect”.

The opposition frontbencher said despite outside impressions, the party does not believe it owns the flag, saying the “national colours are not the possession of Sinn Féin”.

The move to officially tone down celebrations comes as Sinn Féin is continuing to ride high in the polls and is likely to be tested when voters next have their say. 



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