Short Straw

It is not certain why the short straw ends up in the hands of Mary Lou McDonald on the issue of Sinn Fein’s handling of sex abuse cases carried out by party members or those with inextricable links to the party.

On the three occasions that she has faced Suzanne Breen of the Sunday Tribune, the paper's Northern editor has mauled her. Were McDonald playing professional soccer her performances would see her on a free transfer to a team well down the lower divisions by now. In these public exchanges she is emulating her track record in elections – losing.

On a number of points throughout last week’s Breen-McDonald mismatch on RTE’s Pat Kenny radio show McDonald displayed considerable weakness and showed signs of not having been adequately briefed as to what Suzanne Breen might say. She stumbled when Breen informed her that Killian Forde who had only defected from Sinn Fein to Labour had his profile removed from the party website but that the councillor against whom the allegations of abuse in Ardoyne still featured on it. When she criticised Breen for not having first gone to Sinn Fein about complaints of rape Breen pointed out that one of the the victims, Ms Cahill, had expressly asked that Sinn Fein not be told in case the party cranked up the intimidation machine. The reading out on air of Mairtin Og Meehan’s e mail to Breen confirming that Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams had been informed about the abuse of his sister left her reeling.

A former IRA leader with no love for journalists rang me immediately after the exchange on Kenny. He said it was like listening to Albert Einstein debating with the village idiot. McDonald’s performance was not as bad as that but it certainly was not good.

Mary Lou McDonald is an intelligent woman. She is capable of much better than her performances would suggest. But she has been dealt a very weak hand by her party leader and she is instructed to play with it to the bitter end in the ethical Stalingrad to which she has been sent in the middle of January without any winter clothing. In that pitiless theatre any party spokesperson thrown to the front without the proper apparel is immediately taken out with clinical accuracy.

When Mary Lou McDonald pontificates that the Sunday Tribune and its Northern editor are engaging in evasions and mistruths any gravitas she might have laid claim to prior to opening her mouth evaporates. There are few if any other papers in the country willing to week after week - including elevating the status of the allegations to the editorial - label the leader of one of the countries political parties an unmitigated liar in the absolute certainty that the leader accused of brazenly lying lacks the fortitude to have his day in court. That the paper is utterly confident in the making of such assertions is down to one very simple matter: the party of which Mary Lou McDonald is vice president has no standing when it comes to matters of political honesty.

She is further handicapped by having previously publicly expressed a belief in the one lie Sinn Fein without fail continues to tell about Gerry Adams – that he was never a member of the IRA.

Mary Lou McDonald can only play with the hand she has been given. Why it should be so underhand and ineffective is something she should seriously consider putting to the dealer. Failing that she can claim as many free tickets as she wants for her ride into irreversible negative political equity.


  1. she is not called Mary LOSER for nothing Anthony, the problem wih s/f is they are in a hole and their leader,s solution, "keep digging comrades" the republican family was pulled apart many years ago by dickheads with a big ego and touts and pervs and apart from a few carpetbaggers such as the Loser all that remains is those that were acceptable to Dennis and his masters.I hope I,m right and s/f go the same way as the sticks i,e, a slow and embarassing demise,one thing for sure ,true republicianism will be better of when those wasters leave the stage,

  2. Gerry Adams didnt do much better the other day on the Nolan show. Even allowing for the fact that Nolan uncharacteristically gave him an easy ride he still came across as arrogant and obtusive.Instead of Adams hiding behind the likes of McDonald or Gerry Kelly as his defenders why dos'nt he face Suzanne Breen himself where no doubt he could well and truly nail this 'slur' campaign?

  3. The awfulness of these episodes in terms of violence against the most vulnerable by those who are supposed to protect them is so egregious that the wholesale resignation of the SF leadership is the only semi-honorable (the use of honorable seems out of place but you know what I mean) course. How much longer can this charade go on? It would be far better for SF to have to endure some internal chaos as it tries to rebuild a leadership and its credibility than it persists with the myth that like some of the banks in the US it is now “too big to fail” – no bailouts for Gerry and co. As an outsider I can’t imagine how you AM and others who were part of the movement during the struggle must feel at watching the organization degenerate like this. Please SF leaders – resign now.

  4. Sorry AM but I have to completely disagree with you on a very important part of this script, actually I am very surprised that someone with your intellect didn’t spot it at the time of writing this piece. To say “Mary Lou Mc Donald is an intelligent woman “ if this is true and it’s a big if there is no way in hell she would be allowed to join Sinn Fein never mind becoming Vice president ,Sinn Fein operate thus , if you are more intelligent than the leader then we don’t want you about the place. Need I say more?

  5. Kellmor, heard him on Nolan. Felt as you did - he was not too strong. Also noticed him hinting Nolan might have something in his personal life - he mentioned it twice. Intimidation. Nolan was uncharacteristically restrained.

    John no great surprise now. Have been seeing it for years.

    Interested, Hmmm.

  6. Marty, as relentless as ever

  7. is it true the provies were seizin copies of the sun trib??? jesus thats sad.....pathetic

  8. Good post. Keep keeping us informed.

  9. Which are the other two occasions that McDonald has faced Suzanne Breen?

    Anybody knows when Brendan Hughes' memoirs are being released?

  10. Anonymous, you somehow managed to slip through!

    The first time Breen faced McDonald was on radio in The South - maybe Today FM.

    The next was on BBC Radio Ulster - Evening Extra

  11. Like Squire Danaher in the Quiet Man Adams always liked to have his Feeney's about him ready to do his bidding and putting names in the book.

    The problem is that the Feeneys themselves now fear their names going into Gerry's bad books and if Gerry wants them out there doing his bidding then it is better to be out there doing their sycophantic bit rather than being in the book.


  12. Re: Brendan Hughes' memoirs, according to Liam Clarke last summer: Hughes is one of a number of IRA and loyalist veterans who deposited taped memoirs with an archive in Boston College on condition that nothing would be revealed in their lifetimes.

    Faber plans to publish a book by [Ed] Moloney around the second anniversary of Hughes’ death on February 16. The publisher won't discuss the contents as yet, but says the working title is Voices from Beyond the Grave.