Results south of border will not harm Sinn Fein’s campaign in NI, says McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald has insisted Sinn Fein’s poor showing in elections south of the border will not dent the momentum of its Westminster campaign in Northern Ireland.

The Sinn Fein president said she believes the party was “nailed on” for some gains north of the border when the UK General Election takes place on July 4.

She also rejected any suggestion that the requirement of having to canvass on both sides of the border may have negatively affected Sinn Fein’s ground-game when it came to the local and European elections in the Republic of Ireland.

European and local elections
Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has initiated an internal review after her party’s poor showing in elections in the Republic of Ireland (PA)

Despite registering 30%-plus support in some opinion polls last year, Sinn Fein emerged from the local elections south of the border with 12% of the first preference vote share.

Ms McDonald, who has apologised for the showing and initiated a review of the party’s policy offering to voters, was asked whether the results could have a negative knock-on effect on Sinn Fein’s campaign north of the border.

“I think the momentum that we have developed across the country is very strong,” she replied.

“And I believe that we’re going to perform really well in the Westminster elections. I think we’re nailed on for some gains.”

Asked if the Westminster campaign hurt Sinn Fein’s canvassing south of the border, as it potentially limited the number of activists who could travel down from the north to help out, she insisted the party was perpetually on an election footing.

“We’re a national organisation, the other parties are a regional phenomenon,” she said.

“So we’re always active across the island.

“And if you asked Sinn Fein activists and members and people who live in the north and come up and down, we seem to be permanently on an election.”

General Election campaign 2024
DUP leader Gavin Robinson said voters wanted solutions (Liam McBurney/PA)

DUP leader Gavin Robinson claimed the lesson from Sinn Fein’s electoral performance south of the border was that people wanted “solutions rather than just anger”.

“Sinn Fein’s electoral disappointments in the Republic of Ireland are interesting but the vote that matters for Northern Ireland is on 4th July,” he said.

“That will decide who speaks for Northern Ireland.”

He added: “The lesson from the Republic is that people wanted solutions rather than just anger. Any old fool can point out a problem, but it takes a plan and determination to deal with a problem and secure a lasting solution.

“Both in Scotland and the Republic, 2024 has demonstrated the fluid nature of polls and electoral success.

“The ballot box is what matters. No one should take the people for granted.

“That’s why at every election, we stand on our record of delivery and our plan to make progress.”