Sinn Féin ‘would have had zero to do with Dowdall if we had known what he’d do’

Sinn Féin ‘Would Have Had Zero To Do With Dowdall If We Had Known What He’d Do’ Sinn Féin ‘Would Have Had Zero To Do With Dowdall If We Had Known What He’d Do’
Mary Lou McDonald said former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall was never a friend of hers. Photo: PA
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By Rebecca Black, PA

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has said she would have had nothing to do with Jonathan Dowdall had she known what was to transpire.

The former Sinn Féin councillor has been jailed for four years for facilitating the 2016 murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel. He was previously jailed in 2017 for falsely imprisoning and torturing a man.

Mrs McDonald was asked about a €1,000 donation from Dowdall in 2011.

She told RTÉ radio’s This Week programme that Dowdall made one contribution into her political donations account at least a decade ago, which she said was declared in line with guidelines.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA

Mrs McDonald said she believes he also attended Sinn Féin fundraising events.

“Just remember, at that time there was no question of Mr Dowdall being a convicted criminal, he now is, correctly, and let me make it also very plain, had I known, had I the foresight or any knowledge or inkling that he would have gone on to behave in the way that he did, he would not have been anywhere near me, anywhere near Sinn Féin,” she said.


“Frankly we would have had nothing, zero to do with him.”

Asked whether Dowdall was a friend of hers, Mrs McDonald said no.

“He was a constituency colleague, the reality is that as it turned out, and as Jonathan Dowdall behaved, I do not know him, did not know him, would have had no clue, no more than anybody else had, of what he was capable of,” she said.

“We now know that and responsibility for those actions rests with Jonathan Dowdall and with him alone.”

Mrs McDonald went on: “The donation was made 11 years ago by somebody who had no convictions, who had no involvement to my knowledge, of anything criminal … this was a person who ran a thriving business, a family man, whose wife worked in the Irish civil service, whose business had A list clients like the Dublin Airport Authority, the Bank of America and so on.

“At the time the donation was made, it was recorded correctly in my political donations account with full transparency and fully in accordance with the law.”


Mrs McDonald was also asked about a failure by her party to declare a series of expenses related to the hosting of press conferences during the 2016 general election campaign.


The undeclared expenses were for the hire of five indoor venues in Dublin, one of which was used twice, that totalled €2,160.70.

The party said the amounts should have been included in its return to the Standards in Public Office Commission (Sipo).

Mrs McDonald said any expenses that were not reported have been paid.

“I am very determined that those kind of administrative mistakes and that kind of sloppiness will not occur again, it shouldn’t occur and I’m not going to put any gloss on that,” she said.

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Mrs McDonald rejected any comparisons with the situation with Paschal Donohoe, claiming it was “like comparing apples and oranges”.

The Minister for Public Expenditure admitted to not declaring €1,057 paid by an individual to hang up his posters ahead of the 2016 general election.

“There is a world of a difference in not fully reporting invoices that you have spent to hire a hotel room for a press conference on the one hand, and a failure to declare a corporate donation from a very wealthy businessman when you’re the Minister for Finance, and when this individual is appointed to State boards and also wins State contracts – those are daylight and dark,” she said.

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