Sinn Fein have learned from local election losses: Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said her party have “listened and learned” from their local election losses and is optimistic they can gain more seats in the Dail.

The party went from 159 council seats to 81 in the local elections last June and lost MEPs in Lynn Boylan and Liadh Ni Riada.

Ms McDonald said the party had learned from their previous mistakes and that she was looking forward to her first general election as party leader.

“This campaign will be very different, we’ve listened, we’ve learned, we’ve been very honest with each other,” she said.

“This time you’ll see a clear policy platform for workers, for families, for those people who hear about economic recovery but aren’t experiencing it in their lives, critically for us, for people who don’t have a secure roof over their head.

“We’re going to run a very vigorous campaign, I’m looking forward to it, I like being out on the stump, I like meeting people and it’s a welcome relief from the political show that can go on in the Dail.

“We’re setting out to defend the seats that we hold, we’re confident we can do that, we don’t underestimate the challenge, but we’re confident.

“Every election is about convincing people voter by voter and there is no room for complacency.”

Ms McDonald added that although they are open to speaking to both major political parties, “the first people who have to be consulted are the citizens of this land”.

“People know that for all the talk of economic recovery, many, many families actually have less money in their pocket than they had three of four years ago,” she said.

“The people are first, the political establishment are a very, very distant second to them.”

Ms McDonald says the country is having the February 8 election because the government could not win a confidence motion in their Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

“Their track record is plain to see, we’re in an election because the government know they cannot continue defending their desperate record in health provision and the Fine Gael-Fianna Fail coalition has collapsed, and here we are,” she said.

“It’s a symbol of their failures and we are now offering a choice to the electorate, the choice is for more of the same or for change.

“Sinn Fein will stand up for communities, workers and families, we’ll give workers and families a break.

“This is about the kind of Ireland we want to create and live in, and the electorate will have to ask themselves these questions: Who do they believe will put money back in their pocket?

“Who do they believe will take on the insurance industry and other vested interests? Who do they believe can deliver a huge council house building programme and affordable housing?

“Who do they believe will plan for their future? And the answer to all of these questions are Sinn Fein will.”