Northern Ireland

IRA campaign was justified says Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin
Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald. Picture by Margaret McLaughlin

SINN Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has said the IRA's campaign was "justified" and there is "every chance" she would have taken up arms during the Troubles.

Ms McDonald also defended her attendance at events commemorating those involved in IRA violence.

"I wish it hadn't happened, but it was a justified campaign," she told the Sunday Independent.

"It was inevitable; it was utterly inevitable and anybody with even a passing sense of Irish history could have predicted it surely as night followed day."

In a wide-ranging interview, Ms McDonald also spoke about a "difficult" relationship with her father after her parents separated in 1979, and how the hunger strikes were a defining moment in her childhood.

Asked if she would have joined the IRA had she been old enough, she said: "Yeah, I think there'd be every chance, every possibility."

Ms McDonald said the involvement of ex-IRA members in Sinn Féin's decision-making processes was "evidence of the huge success of the peace process", but denied they were making decisions for elected reps.

She also said she speaks to her predecessor Gerry Adams every week, describing him as "very wise".

Ms McDonald defended attending events commemorating former IRA members, saying it was "essential to remember".

The Sinn Féin leader also revealed that Prince Charles was in touch with her following her recovery from coronavirus.

"So, if you want a measure of how much things have changed, there's one I suppose small example," she added.

Ms McDonald, whose party received the most votes in February's southern election, accused Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael of "plagiarism and theft" of Sinn Féin's election manifesto in their joint paper which has led to government coalition talks with the Greens.

She expressed hope that the Green Party would ultimately opt out of the discussions and turn to Sinn Féin.