Mary Lou McDonald

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Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald 2009.jpg
Sinn Féin Spokesperson Shadowing the Tánaiste
Assumed office
11 May 2016
Leader Gerry Adams
Preceded by position established
Deputy Leader of Sinn Féin
Assumed office
22 February 2009
Leader Gerry Adams
Preceded by Pat Doherty
Teachta Dála
Assumed office
February 2011
Constituency Dublin Central
Member of the European Parliament
In office
June 2004 – June 2009
Constituency Dublin
Personal details
Born (1969-05-01) 1 May 1969 (age 47)
Churchtown, Dublin, Ireland
Nationality Irish
Political party Sinn Féin
Other political
Fianna Fáil
Spouse(s) Martin Lanigan
Children 2
Alma mater Trinity College, Dublin,
University of Limerick,
Dublin City University
Religion Roman Catholicism[1]

Mary Lou McDonald (born 1 May 1969) is an Irish politician, the Deputy Leader of Sinn Féin and a Teachta Dála (TD) for Dublin Central.[2] McDonald was a Member of the European Parliament (MEP) from 2004 to 2009, representing the Dublin constituency.


Born in Dublin, McDonald was educated at Notre Dame Des Missions in Churchtown,[3] Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Limerick and Dublin City University, studying English Literature, European Integration Studies and Human Resource Management.[4] Her career to date has her involved in diverse roles, including consultant for the Irish Productivity Centre, researcher for the Institute of European Affairs, and trainer in the Partnership Unit of the Educational and Training Services Trust.[4]

Originally a member of Fianna Fáil, she left the party in 1998 when she failed to get put forward as a candidate for election. During this time she also served as Leas-Chathaoirleach (Vice-Chair) of the Irish National Congress republican organisation. Her sister Joanne was a member of the republican group éirígí.[5]

Dáil Éireann[edit]

McDonald first ran for office when she unsuccessfully contested the Dublin West constituency for Sinn Féin at the 2002 general election, polling 8.02% of first preference votes. She was an unsuccessful candidate in the Dublin Central constituency at the 2007 general election.

She contested Dublin Central again in the 2011 general election, this time picking up 13.1% of first preference votes; she was successful in taking the last seat in the constituency ahead of the Fianna Fáil candidate Mary Fitzpatrick.[6] She was re-elected in the 2016 general election on the 6th count. She was formerly a member of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee.

In November 2014, McDonald refused to leave the Dáil chamber despite a vote suspending her, after she had repeatedly questioned Tánaiste Joan Burton on water charges.[7]

European Parliament[edit]

In 2004, McDonald became Sinn Féin's first Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in the Republic of Ireland when she was elected at the 2004 European Parliament election for the Dublin constituency, receiving over 60,000 first preference votes.[8] She served as one of two Sinn Féin MEPs (the other being Bairbre de Brún representing Northern Ireland). In 2007 she was shortlisted for the 'MEP of the Year' award by the European Parliament magazine for "making the most valuable contribution in the field of employment policy".[9] During her time in office she led the Sinn Féin campaign against the Treaty of Lisbon, which was rejected in the Republic in 2008. McDonald sat as a member of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee, and as a substitute of the Civil Liberties Committee.

For the 2009 European Parliament election, the number of seats for Dublin in the European Parliament was reduced from four to three. McDonald was in a tight race for the last seat against Fianna Fáil's Eoin Ryan and the Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins. McDonald lost her seat to Higgins, being eliminated at the fifth count. Her first preference vote had declined to nearly 48,000.[10] In 2012, McDonald was awarded 'Opposition Politician of the Year' by TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne political talk show.[11]

Party activity and controversy[edit]

She is a member of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle (party leadership) as of 2001,[12] and is the party's Vice President, replacing Pat Doherty following the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis of 22 February 2009.

In September 2003, McDonald attracted criticism when she spoke at a rally in Dublin to commemorate Seán Russell, an IRA leader with links to Nazi Germany.[13][14][15]

In June 2009, McDonald faced criticism after it emerged her campaign office was selling IRA souvenirs and memorabilia.[16][17]

In December 2015 McDonald initially backed Thomas "Slab" Murphy, who she described as a "good republican" despite him having been convicted on nine charges of tax evasion, following a trial held in an anti-terrorism court after the last person to testify against Murphy in a court was bludgeoned to death after a 1999 court case in Dublin.[18][19] She later failed to back party leader Gerry Adams' assertion that Thomas Murphy is a "good republican" after a BBC Spotlight investigation accused Murphy of being a "mass murderer".[20]


  1. ^ "Bishops 'waving crozier' in abortion debate". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  2. ^ "Ms. Mary Lou McDonald". Oireachtas Members Database. Retrieved 17 April 2011. 
  3. ^ "TDs who went to private schools split over cuts". Irish Independent. 2 December 2012. 
  4. ^ a b "Mary Lou McDonald MEP Dublin". Sinn Féin Online. Archived from the original on July 9, 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  5. ^ "Éirigí: New kids on the republican block". Sunday Tribune. 9 August 2009. Retrieved 17 June 2010. 
  6. ^ "Mary Lou McDonald". Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  7. ^ "Sinn Fein's Mary Lou McDonald refuses to leave the Dail – despite being suspended". Irish Independent. 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 November 2014. 
  8. ^ "EU elections 2004 results – Dublin". Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ "Ryan loses out to Higgins in Dublin". RTÉ News. 8 June 2008. Archived from the original on June 10, 2009. Retrieved 8 June 2008. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ "MEP profile". European Parliament. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  13. ^ Cusack, Jim (6 June 2004). "SF's Nazi hero is stalking candidate Mary Lou". Irish Independent. Retrieved 25 May 2008. SINN FEIN'S Mary Lou McDonald has been accused of "warped principles" for participating in a republican commemoration ceremony last year for a Nazi collaborator while standing as a candidate for the European Parliament. 
  14. ^ McDonald, Henry (16 January 2005). "This dastardly plot". The Observer. London. Retrieved 25 May 2008. Because if they had really wanted to shine a light into this very dark corner of Irish republican history then the vandals would have been better protesting in Fairview Park, holding seminars to discuss the IRA/Nazi links in the 1940s and publicly challenging anyone, including the Sinn Fein MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald, who rushes to honour Russell as to why they feel it's alright to rally round a statue of one of Adolf Hitler's allies in World War Two. 
  15. ^ Colgan, Paul; Callanan, Neil. "Profile: Prime time Shinner". The Sunday Business Post. Archived from the original on 14 March 2004. Retrieved 25 May 2008. She encountered criticism after speaking at a commemoration for IRA volunteer Sean Russell last year. 
  16. ^ Sheahan, Fionnan (2 June 2009). "IRA souvenirs sell well in McDonald HQ". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  17. ^ "Sinn Fein VP Mary Lou Mcdonald slammed for allowing sale of IRA souvenirs". Irish Central. 2 June 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  18. ^ Moriarty, Gerry (20 December 2015). "Gerry Adams had little choice but to stand by 'Slab' Murphy". The Irish Times. Retrieved 21 December 2015. 
  19. ^ O'Connor, Niall; Doyle, Kevin; Cusack, Jim (22 December 2015). "Now Mary Lou backs 'good republican' Slab". Irish Independent. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 
  20. ^ Ó Cionnaith, Fiachra (5 February 2016). "Mary Lou McDonald stays silent on support for Thomas 'Slab' Murphy". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 29 May 2016. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Cyprian Brady
(Fianna Fáil)
Sinn Féin Teachta Dála for Dublin Central
European Parliament
Preceded by
Patricia McKenna
(Green Party)
Member of the European Parliament for Dublin
Succeeded by
Joe Higgins
(Socialist Party)
Party political offices
Preceded by
Mitchel McLaughlin
Chairperson of Sinn Féin
Succeeded by
Declan Kearney
Preceded by
Pat Doherty
Vice-President of Sinn Féin