New Sinn Féin justice spokesman wanted council to nominate conspiracy theorist Gemma O’Doherty to run for president
• 2h ago
Sinn Féin’s new justice spokesperson Pa Daly had previously proposed nominating Gemma O’Doherty, the far-right activist and conspiracy theorist, to run for president.
The Kerry TD, who was appointed the party’s justice spokesperson last week, led the party’s efforts on Kerry County Council to nominate Ms O’Doherty, a former Irish Independent journalist, as a candidate to contest the presidential election in 2018.
She failed to gain a nomination from the council and was not on the ballot paper. Ms O’Doherty has in recent years become a prominent far-right activist and conspiracy theorist who was last November convicted and fined for breaching Covid-19 regulations by attending an anti-lockdown protest.
She has described the virus as a “hoax” and was banned from YouTube for breaching its hate speech policies. In more recent times Ms O’Doherty has falsely claimed former Sunday Independent journalist Veronica Guerin was murdered by the State and that Aaron Brady, the man convicted of murdering Detective Garda Adrian Donohoe outside a credit union in Co Louth 10 years ago, is innocent.
Mr Daly told the Sunday Independent this weekend that “in no way do I endorse any of her views”.
Five years ago, while a Kerry county councillor for Tralee, Mr Daly told a council meeting that while he would be canvassing and voting for Sinn Féin’s candidate Liadh Ní Riada, he wanted to propose Ms O’Doherty for nomination by the council.
Minutes of the meeting record Mr Daly describing Ms O’Doherty as “a woman who has exposed many things and upset many of the higher echelons within An Garda Síochána”. He also reportedly told councillors that Ms O’Doherty was fearless and brave in highlighting injustice in her 20 years as a journalist.
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Kerry County Council ultimately voted to nominate businessman Peter Casey, who ended up on the ballot paper and finished a distant second to President Michael D Higgins.
Contacted yesterday, Mr Daly told the Sunday Independent he would not nominate Ms O’Doherty again and did not endorse her views.“At that time I emphasised that I would be campaigning, voting for Liadh Ní Riada the Sinn Féin candidate,” he said.
But he said Ms O’Doherty had campaigned over issues such as sex abuser John McClean and murder victim Fr Niall Molloy so “we felt she should be given a chance to run and the electorate could make up their minds but I wouldn’t be voting for her”.
“Given some of her subsequent articles, her endorsement of some conspiracy theories and some other strange articles she has written I wouldn’t do so again. At the time I remember some Fine Gael and some Fianna Fáil councillors endorsed Peter Casey who had some other views. It was in that context. I wouldn’t do it again,” he said.
“Certainly she has very strange views in relation to Covid lockdowns and the case that was taken and in no way do I endorse any of her views.”
Mr Daly was appointed to the frontbench in place of Sligo-Leitrim TD Martin Kenny who has been given the communications and transport portfolio.
Mr Daly was elected to the Dáil in 2020, having been chosen by Sinn Féin to replace Martin Ferris, who retired.
A native of Tralee, Mr Daly qualified as a solicitor in 1996 and worked in the US before returning to Ireland. In 2002 and 2003 he travelled to Colombia to act as an independent legal observer for the trial of Colombia Three, the three Irishmen accused of training Farc rebels.
Mr Daly said yesterday he had been asked to attend the trial by some of the families of the three men, all of whom were or had been members of Sinn Féin. He said he was not a member of the party at that time.