Mary Lou McDonald denies reputation damaged over Dowdall’s crime links

Mary Lou Mcdonald Denies Reputation Damaged Over Dowdall’s Crime Links
The Sinn Féin leader said she did not believe the attention on her party and its links to Jonathan Dowdall had been a 'setback'. Photo: PA Images
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Cate McCurry, PA

Mary Lou McDonald has denied that her reputation has been damaged following the involvement of former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall in the Regency trial.

There has been widespread coverage of Dowdall and his role in the shooting of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel in recent weeks.


Dowdall was jailed for four years in October after he pleaded guilty to facilitating the murder of Mr Byrne.

Court artist sketch of former Sinn Fein councillor Jonathan Dowdall
Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall expressed regret earlier this week over his ‘unfair’ comments about Ms McDonald (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Ms McDonald said Dowdall’s association to Sinn Féin had not been a setback for the party.


Dowdall is testifying against Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch who is facing a murder charge at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.

He has also been quizzed on his links to the republican movement.

On Wednesday, Dowdall expressed regret over his “unfair” comments about Ms McDonald.

Last month, the court heard a claim by Dowdall during a conversation with Hutch that Ms McDonald had used the Hutch family for money and votes.


Ms McDonald has distanced herself from Dowdall, previously stating that she was “profoundly shocked” to learn of his role in gangland crime.

Court artist sketch of Gerry 'The Monk' Hutch
Gerry ‘The Monk’ Hutch is facing a murder charge at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin (Elizabeth Cook/PA)

Last month, the Dublin TD said that had she known about Dowdall’s involvement in criminality, he would not have been “anywhere near” the party.


Dowdall was jailed in 2017 for falsely imprisoning and waterboarding a man who went to his home to buy a motorbike.

It recently emerged that Dowdall had donated money to the party, including €1,000 to Ms McDonald.

He won a council seat with the party in Dublin in 2014.

Asked whether her name being raised in the trial had damaged her image, Ms McDonald said: “Well, I mean, my image is of the leader of the opposition here. First woman ever to lead the opposition in the history of the State, a leader of the party that’s now the biggest party across the island as a whole, as a person who believes in knuckling down and getting the hard work done.


Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she did not believe the attention on her party and its links to Dowdall had been a ‘setback’ (Brian Lawless/PA)

“I’m very conscious also that we have to work continuously to win people’s confidence and to make sure that we’re on top of things, but I lead a very strong team.

“I think we’ve had a very, very successful, very fruitful year. I have no doubt that next year we’ll be busy, it will be challenging, but I think equally will be a year where, again, Sinn Féin will mark more progress, not just in the south, but in the North, also island-wide.”

Ms McDonald said she did not believe the attention on her party and its links to Dowdall had been a “setback”.

“I think in the bigger scheme of things, I think it is a very positive development when the gardai and others bring matters like these to the courts, they are matters for the courts to adjudicate,” she added.

“When we see the system actually working, that’s a positive thing in my book.”

She also said Dowdall’s comments about her were “untrue”.


“I am conscious that there is a very important criminal trial under way, so I am very careful and what I will say about that because I certainly do not want to have any effect on that process,” she added.

“But quite aside from the criminal proceedings, let me say this, that I represent communities who more than most paid the price for the drugs epidemic, the heroin epidemic initially in the 1980s and everything that has transpired from that since then, and these so-called gangland characters.”

Dowdall voices regret at his ‘unfair’ comments abo...
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Ms McDonald said the Hutch-Kinahan gangland feud had caused “trauma, heartache and fear” in Dublin’s inner city.

She said anyone involved in gangland criminality should be behind bars.

“As for my votes, people vote for me on my record in public life, and because they know that I am a person who stands for safety, security, people having the freedom and opportunity to live their best lives without fear,” she added.

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