MARY LOU MCDONALD said the removal of thousands of press releases from her party’s website was not an attempt to pivot Sinn Féin’s stance on issues such as Russia and NATO.
The Sunday Independent reported that thousands of press releases from Sinn Féin politicians dating back more than 20 years have been deleted in recent days.
“No, absolutely not,” McDonald said. The newspaper in New York today when asked if the removal was an attempt to hijack some of the positions its members have taken over the years.
“The website is undergoing a long overdue revamp. So the archives are being changed,” she said, adding that there was nothing notable about it.
“You don’t remove things from the internet, when something is published it’s there forever, you don’t have to be a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist to find comments, remarks or statements on anything. So it’s just a matter of housekeeping,” she said.
Speaking about the crisis in Ukraine, McDonald said Ireland was playing an impeccable role in humanitarian aid, stressing that this was evident in the response of the Irish public in helping Ukrainian refugees.
When asked if she would consider opening her home to refugees arriving in Ireland, she replied:
Funny enough, we had this conversation at home. I won’t be able to do this for a number of reasons. I know others will. I think it’s very important that anyone doing this is vetted enough that everyone is safe and protected in that space.
McDonald said there was a mobilization of communities across the country, saying that in his own constituency, the North Star Hotel now houses 600 people from Ukraine.
Since the start of the violence in Ukraine, there have been a number of claims made by politicians that Sinn Féin has been soft on Russia.
This is something McDonald’s denies.
Position on Russia
“On the question of Russia, our position has always been and remains that any conflict will ultimately be resolved through diplomacy and through dialogue, that is the reality. And we have always supported and will always support an approach that upholds multilateralism, the rule of international law, that does not escalate or aggravate tensions, acting in every way possible to defuse tense situations and to try to avoid the aggression.
“But be very clear. When Russia walked out of international law and invaded Ukraine, we didn’t take the leap in denouncing that,” she said, adding that they would do the same with any other aggressor in similar circumstances. .
“So I don’t think our stance is soft. I think our position is absolutely consistent. That you only maintain good international order when people respect things, like the right to self-determination, rights like national sovereignty, and that has clearly been blatantly violated by Vladimir Putin’s regime and its aggression against Ukraine. So there is no equivocation on this point,” said McDonald.
Ireland should be militarily neutral
McDonald said his party wanted Ireland to play its full role as a “military neutral” in the international system.
“We are not hesitating on this, we are not trying to get out of it, this is the right position for Ireland. This is the most constructive position for Ireland, a small nation with a history of colonization and conflict, and peacemaking. This is the right place and the right position for us,” she said.
Sinn Féin also has “no desire” for Ireland to join NATO, McDonald said.
It would be “wrong” and would be an “absolutely fundamental error”, she said.
Others take a different view, said the Sinn Féin leader, pointing to what she claims have been attempts for many years, particularly by Fine Gael, to try to move Ireland towards the European defense process and to continue its alignment with NATO.
“We think it’s the wrong decision and absolutely the wrong position for us. So where there’s a lack of clarity on this issue isn’t around us, it’s around others who can try to use this war, instigated by Putin, to try to distract Ireland from our traditional politics. This is a mistake,” McDonald said.
In recent days the Taoiseach has held out the prospect of a citizens’ assembly on Ireland’s neutrality, while Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has said we cannot be naïve in thinking that because we are neutral we will be at safe from any future attack.
McDonald said what Ireland brings to the table is our peacekeeping record which she says is unmatched and unmatched.
Ireland also brings a totally different perspective to some other EU countries, many of which are former colonizers, McDonald said.
Telling your children about nuclear weapons
“No one should have nuclear weapons, NATO, Russia or anywhere else. They are an international threat. So those are the questions. I think that’s where the debate needs to be,” a- she declared.
Fine Gael has always tended to lean towards militarization and towards Ireland as part of an EU defense and military apparatus, McDonald said.
“We take the opposite view, we think Ireland’s role is to advocate for demilitarisation, to advocate for diplomacy, to advocate for democracy. That’s our role,” she said, noting that in 1968 Ireland was the first country to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
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“We are leading on this issue. That’s what we should be doing. This is where we can use our soft power and influence,” she said.
The Sinn Féin leader followed up on the comments today at a conference at the Council of Foreign Relations in New York, saying she never thought she would have conversations with her teenage children about the possible use of nuclear weapons.
mcdonald said The newspaper that Ireland knows only too well what conflict can bring to a country, saying the Irish government must call for a peaceful resolution.
“We know the cost. We know the cost. We also know that sooner or later the fights end, and the sooner the better. The fighting ends, then the talks and dialogue and diplomacy come into play.
She said the EU treaties needed to be changed, saying there is currently no provision for recognition of neutral, non-aligned military as a country like Ireland.
“There is recognition for NATO members, but that is not matched by recognition for member states like Ireland. We need to change that instead of going with those in NATO. We need to think constructively and ambitiously, what is the space we are filling? What kind of diplomatic leeway we create as a neutral and it’s actually how small countries make you can make a big, big difference,” she said.