Eilis O’Hanlon: Mary Lou’s quick U-turn on a border poll shows who really runs Sinn Fein

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Eilis O’Hanlon: Mary Lou’s quick U-turn on a border poll shows who really runs Sinn Fein

The Sinn Fein chief will never truly be leader of her party until she faces down hardliners in the North, writes Eilis O’Hanlon


NOVICE LEADER: Mary Lou McDonald ‘was hauled quickly and unceremoniously back into line’ after announcing that it was not the right time for a border poll. Photo: Getty Images
NOVICE LEADER: Mary Lou McDonald ‘was hauled quickly and unceremoniously back into line’ after announcing that it was not the right time for a border poll. Photo: Getty Images

There can be no more striking demonstration of the difference between the Republic and Northern Ireland than the fact that Mary Lou McDonald‘s remarks early last week about this not being the right time for a border poll would have been seen by most voters in the Republic as eminently sensible and practical, but were regarded instead as high treason among republicans in the North.

There’s also no stronger, or more disturbing, proof of who’s really in charge of Sinn Fein than the fact that its new leader was hauled so quickly back into line once her heretical views became known.

All things considered, it’s actually astonishing that Mary Lou said what she did in the first place. Since abandoning the fantasy that reunification could be achieved by force, securing a vote on Irish unity has been the pillar of Sinn Fein’s identity as a party.

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