Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald defends ending speech with IRA slogan
‘Stale rhetoric’ was criticised
Newly elected Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald has defended ending her leadership acceptance speech with "Up the rebels" and "Tiocfaidh ar la".
Critics claimed that the remarks harked back to a "dark time" when the IRA campaign was in full swing.
Ms McDonald concluded her speech with "Up the rebels agus Tiocfaidh ar la" (our day will come) at her party's special ard fheis in Dublin last week.
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For unionists, the use of those two phrases overshadowed the parts of her speech that addressed the need for reconciliation and how Sinn Fein wanted to achieve a united Ireland with "graciousness and generosity".
Upper Bann MLA Doug Beattie said he was disappointed by the new Sinn Fein president's remarks.
TUV leader Jim Allister said the incident reinforced why the DUP should not return to government with Sinn Fein at Stormont.
However speaking on the Late Late Show on Friday night Ms McDonald defended her language.
She said: "I was setting out things that I believe passionately in.
"Things like social progress, social justice, shared prosperity, a new Ireland.
"And for me to utter the words Tiocfaidh ar la refers to that vision of a new Ireland. And I know for some people that sounds like a harking to the past, for me it absolutely is not.
"I'm a new leader of Sinn Fein, Tiocfaidh ar la, is about the future, it's about moving to the future and building a new Ireland. That's what I'm about and that's what my speech is about, including the last utterance.
She continued: "In terms of language that is used, if language carries a negative connotation you reclaim it. I speak words for me, for where I'm coming from and what my political ambitions are. And let me assure you the last place I want any of us to go to is the past or old ways.
"For me the speech was clearly about the present and much more importantly about the future."