Mary Lou McDonald ‘profoundly shocked’ about Jonathan Dowdall’s criminal involvement
Ciara Phelan Political Correspondent
5th November 2022
Mary Lou McDonald has said that if the party had known that former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall was involved in any criminality, Dowdall would not have been near her or the party.
Ms McDonald was speaking to reporters at the party’s ard fheis at the RDS this morning.
Dowdall has recently been put behind bars for facilitating one of the most high-profile gangland murders in the country, at the Regency Hotel.
Ms McDonald has previously been pictured with Dowdall.
She said she was “profoundly shocked” to discover Dowdall’s “criminal activity”.
She said: “Had we known that he was involved in any form of criminality, and I have to say I was profoundly shocked, as were many, many others, to discover his criminal activity, he wouldn’t have been anywhere near Sinn Féin.
“He wouldn’t have been anywhere near me or anybody else.
“The courts now are dealing with this matter.
“Anybody involved in criminality, gangland, they [should] face the full rigour, the full rigour, throw the book at them is what I say.
“I represent a constituency, as you know, that has borne the brunt of criminality and gangland violence and thuggery and there can be no truck with it.
“No room for it and, certainly, I am relieved, pleased to see that justice now, the wheels of justice in motion; we leave it to the courts to deal with all of that.”
When asked if parties should be able to vet candidates, Ms McDonald said that was the gardaí’s duty and “that would be crazy.”
Ms McDonald also denied that Dowdall’s involvement with Sinn Féin had damaged the party.
She said she hopes people realise that Sinn Féin “had no notion, nor had others, of the fact that this individual was involved in criminality”.
She added: “This person, at one point, was a person of very good standing in the north inner city of Dublin, so the shock was not just ours, but more widely felt, but let me just assure you, had we known, he would not have been anywhere near any of us or in the Sinn Féin party.”
Ms McDonald has faced criticism for her use of the words ‘house our own’, during Leaders’ Questions in the Dáil in a debate on the accommodation shortage for Ukrainian refugees here.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin had accused the leader of the Opposition of “playing both sides” of the debate.
He went on to attack Ms McDonald, saying she commented that the Government could not look after “our own” as well.
“I know what that is targeted at. I know why that phrase was used,” he said.
Ms McDonald told the Irish Examiner she rejected that the use of “house our own” was a loaded phrase.
She said: “I haven’t dog whistled ever, negative sort of commentary or feelings about any group of people.
“But let me say this, for anybody to suggest that naming a very obvious housing crisis that’s gone on for a decade and more and making the demands of the Government that our people here on the island are housed that’s in any way a negative commentary on Ukrainians is just wrong.”
Ms McDonald said she knows the Ukrainian ambassador to Ireland has “had to send word” to Ukraine to not come to Ireland, because they can’t be housed.
She said: “So I am making the point that I believe she is making, which is that the housing needs of everybody need to be addressed. And, yes, that includes people seeking international protection, people coming here seeking refuge and people, families, some of whom have been on waiting lists for 10 years, 11 years, 14 years. That’s what that means.”