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Michelle O'Neill: Sinn Fein is more democratic than many other parties

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill says her party is more democratic than many others (Liam McBurney/PA)
Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O’Neill says her party is more democratic than many others (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Eimear McGovern

Michelle O'Neill has said she believes Sinn Fein is more democratic than many other parties, after the party was prompted to release the results of an internal contest for the position of their deputy presidency.

She also said her party was not "embarrassed" into releasing the polling figures due to media scrutiny.

Ms O'Neill has described it as a "huge honour" that two-thirds of her party's membership chose to vote for her to hold on to her post after she was challenged by John O'Dowd for the position.

It's after Sinn Fein revealed the results of the vote, which took place at the party’s Ard Fheis in Londonderry on Saturday.

However, the breakdown of the vote among party members was not revealed until Friday, following accusations of a lack of transparency in the process.

It emerged Ms O’Neill received 493 votes to Mr O’Dowd’s 241, indicating she had taken 67% of the vote, compared to 32% for Mr O’Dowd.

Danny Morrison, the party’s former publicity director, revealed the voting figures in a Tweet.

Speaking to the BBC, Ms O'Neill argued that she believes her party is more democratic than others.

"I was selected by the grassroots," she said.

"I would argue very strongly that Sinn Fein are more democratic than most other parties. John and I were both part of the ard chomhairle who decided the rules around the contest."

Ms O'Neill said the contest was very much an internal one for Sinn Fein.

"The membership had the opportunity to engage with both myself and with John right throughout the contest. I spoke to people across the length and breadth of the country, as did John," she said.

"I often think it's fascinating to watch the media interest in all of this but this was an internal contest in Sinn Fein for deputy president of Sinn Fein. We brought our message to the members of Sinn Fein, who have primacy in the debate, who ultimately had a vote in the debate," she said.

"In a large movement like ourselves people are going to have different vioews. I want to work with John O'Dowd and we have big politics ahead of us in terms of Brexit."

When asked whether the party was embarrassed into revealing the polling figures, Ms O'Neill replied: "Absolutely not. Ultimately for me I think the media are more fascinated by this than the Sinn Fein membership are. The membership of Sinn Fein are content, we had a process, we went through it."

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