Unionist election hypocrisy called out
Unionist election hypocrisy called out


Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has urged against “seizing on the hurt of the past” in the Westminster General Election campaign.

She was speaking after former Royal College of Nursing chief, Pat Cullen was challenged by unionists to condemn IRA actions during the conflict. Ms Cullen was unveiled as Sinn Fein’s Westminster election candidate for Fermanagh South Tyrone late last month.

Unionist election candidates have been condemned for publicly celebrating the murderous actions of the British military at ‘Armed Forces Week’ events, which included events such as children playing with guns and other military gear (pictured) and an RAF flypast – while at the same time demanding condemnations of historical events from Ms Cullen, who has no known connection to the past conflict.

During Sinn Fein’s manifesto launch in west Belfast later on Wednesday, Ms McDonald said the party recognises the hurts of the past.

“Pat Cullen is running for election because Pat Cullen is a very, very good woman, she is a formidable woman who has a track record second to none for public service,” she said.

“All of us are working for the future, and that is not to discount the hurts of the past on all sides. We recognise that but we also know that together we need to make peace with each other and we need to find a pathway forward.

“I don’t believe in the course of an electoral campaign to seize on tragedies and hurts of the past to try and derail or challenge a candidate is the progressive way for us to get to that point of reconciliation.

“This is a very serious matter. The experience that people had, the hurt and the loss that people experienced is real, it’s real human suffering and as political activists we are keenly aware of that and we want to be part of the process of healing that and of moving forward.”

She said her party will “dust ourselves off” after it failed to reach its electoral ambitions in the recent local and European elections.

Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin got “a knock” after the party put in a poor performance earlier this month.

Sinn Féin, who was widely seen as the government-in-waiting, suffered a setback when its support dropped below what was projected.

Ms McDonald said the party has started a review into what went wrong in its electoral campaign, particularly as parties prepare for a general election, which could take place later this year.

“We know political struggle isn’t easy. Things don’t always go the way you want,” Ms McDonald told the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration in County Kildare.

“This is a party built on incredible sacrifice and on that enormous reservoir of courage, resilience and hope that sees us through the tough times.

“We had a knock at the recent local elections. The result didn’t match the scale of our ambitions. But it’s how we respond to setbacks that determines the future. We will come back now with determination and belief.

“We’re often at our best when our backs are to the wall, when the going gets tough and when our political opponents write us off with glee. Let them.

“The match is not over. The story is not finished.”

Meanwhile, Aontú has confirmed the five-year-old party will stand candidates in ten constituencies across the North.

“We are a party of principle, it is important to us that these principles are represented at every level as far as possible,” said Deputy Leader Gemma Brolly.

“People have watched North and South as parties have flip-flopped on policies and ran with the wind, we are here to make sure they can vote for a party with backbone, rooted in principle and determination to truly oppose all that is wrong with our society.”

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