The leader of Sinn Fein has refused to convict one of her MPs for calling “the Ra” during an election victory speech, saying that she is “not their mother.”
David Cullinane made the comment – a long-standing slogan of support for the IRA – after Sinn Fein made a historic win in the Irish elections on Sunday.
Sinn Fein rose to the first place in the popular mood by positioning herself as a left-wing alternative to Ireland’s two major parties, but many still see the party as affected by its historical ties with the IRA.
Party leader Mary Lou McDonald yesterday, however, rejected Cullinane’s use of the slogan as a ‘disposable commentary’.
“I’m not their mother and I don’t censor them,” she said.
Mrs McDonald wants a referendum on a united Ireland within five years, but the DUPs Arlene Foster has already rejected those calls today.
Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (shown yesterday in Dublin) dismissed the remark of a party colleague ‘up the Ra’ as a ‘disposable commentary’
Mr Cullinane broke out in his nationalistic tirade after being elected to Waterford on Sunday.
“They have not broken the hunger strikers, they have not broken Bobby Sands and Kevin Lynch, they will never break us, they will never break Sinn Fein,” he said, referring to IRA hunger strikers from the 1980s.
“What we say is the Republic, the Ra, and tiocfaidh ár lá [a republican slogan meaning ‘our day will come’]. ”
The speech won cheers from supporters of Sinn Fein, but the party critics have demanded an apology.
Mr Cullinane later insisted that his comments were “not about the future” and said that “the IRA is gone as everyone knows”.
“I know some people will think the comments were about the here and now and the future, they weren’t,” he said.
“It was reminiscent of that time in Irish history that I’m proud of and those hunger strikers and I assumed part of the excitement of the night when we celebrated that victory.
‘I don’t feel like I have to apologize because I think back to that period. What I say is that I give context to the comments I have made. “
Mr. Cullinane said he was “very proud” of the “republican legacy” of the party, again referring to the IRA hunger strikes.
David Cullinane shouted the IRA slogan during a nationalistic tirade (photo) after being re-elected as MP for Waterford on Sunday
Sinn Fein was the political wing of the IRA during the problems when violence raged over British rule in Northern Ireland.
The violence was largely terminated by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, and the IRA officially ended its armed campaign in 2005.
Mrs. McDonald, who has been party leader since February 2018, has less direct IRA baggage than her predecessor Gerry Adams, but has had to deal with controversy about this issue.
In 2004, she was accused of having “distorted principles” after joining IRA members at a memorial event for Sean Russell, an Irish nationalist and Nazi sympathizer who died aboard a U-boat off the Irish coast in 1940 .
Five years later, it turned out that IRA souvenirs were being sold at Mrs. McDonald’s campaign office in Dublin.
The items that were for sale included a T-shirt in honor of IRA members and lapel pins in the shape of a Kalashnikov rifle.
In a documentary in 2013, she said she “fully understood and understood why people volunteer for the IRA.”
Last year she was attacked again for walking in a St Patrick’s Day Parade in New York behind a flag with the slogan: “England leaves Ireland.”
Democratic Unionist party leader Arlene Foster (pictured during the 2019 election campaign) today rejected calls for a border poll
Mrs. McDonald is now at the center of what could be long-term coalition talks after Sinn Fein’s historic win in the election.
The final results showed that Sinn Fein won 24.5 percent of the first preference votes, ahead of 22.2 percent for Fianna Fail and 20.9 percent for Fine Gael.
Sinn Fein has not won the most seats, but wants to talk to smaller left parties hoping to reach a majority.
Both Fianna Fail and Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael have previously refused to work with Sinn Fein because of his IRA past.
Mrs McDonald’s party wants a referendum on a united Ireland within five years.
Fianna Fail and Fine Gael basically support a united Ireland, but are reluctant to conduct a border investigation that could resume the bitter divisions of the 20th century.
The Northern Ireland DUP has already rejected calls for a referendum.
Party leader Arlene Foster cited figures from the 2001 and 2019 UK elections to claim that republicans had lost the past two decades rather than receiving support.
Mrs. McDonald, a 50-year-old mother of two, has been a member of the Irish government Dáil Éireann since 2011.
Over the years promoted by Adams, she became his designated successor as party president and other important figures stood aside or lend their support.
Previously, she served as a member of the EP for the Dublin constituency from 2004 to 2009.