Mary Lou McDonald attending events as Taoiseach that commemorate the IRA would be “appalling”, Shane Coleman has said.
The Sinn Féin President has hinted she would not attend such events, following criticism of the decision of North Belfast MP John Finucane to participate in an event remembering IRA members in South Armagh.
In the wake of the controversy, Ms McDonald said she would do her best to unite people if elected leader of the country.
“If I were to be Taoiseach, if I had the privilege of leading a Government, I will be a Taoiseach for everybody,” she said.
“And I would act in a way to foster respect, reconciliation and understanding and never in a partisan way to give offence.”
Ms McDonald did caveat that she would continue to attend the annual ceremony honouring those who fought in the 1916 Rising outside the GPO.
“Well, they [previous Taoisigh] show up on Easter Sunday [to commemorate the Rising] the last time I checked so you’ll find me at the GPO on those occasions," she said.
It was a statement that Shane Coleman very much welcomed.
“I think there has been an attempt to rewrite the history and rewrite the narrative of the Troubles,” he said.
“They [Sinn Féin] have done it very successfully; the narrative now is there was ‘no alternative’ to the Troubles.
“Those of us who are old enough to remember what happened, know that there was an alternative.”
Shane said it was particularly important given the IRA considered the Irish State to be its enemy at various points during its history.
“The idea of a Taoiseach attending an event that commemorates people whose goal was to overthrow the State would be appalling, as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Co-presenter Ciara Kelly said the move demonstrated Sinn Féin is “getting ready for power”.
“This is a deliberate move by Mary Lou to say, ‘Don’t be afraid if I become Taoiseach, it’s going to be okay, everybody,’” Ciara said.
“I do welcome it but it’s quite interesting in political terms.”
Like Shane, Ciara too opposed the IRA’s efforts to unite Ireland through physical force.
“Legitimising terrorism is not something we want in this State and many of us did not support an armed struggle,” she said.
“I know some people obviously do but most people at the time hated the violence.”
Main image: Shane and Mary Lou.