Mary Lou McDonald has pulled out of a visit to Trinity in the wake of a student protest held on campus tonight. The deputy leader of Sinn Féin was due to address members of the party’s Trinity branch at 6:30pm.
Trinity student and Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Graham tonight said that McDonald had been forced to cancel the appearance as a result of Dáil business. Trinity Sinn Féin had been aware “for a few days” that she might not be able to attend the event, he said.
But, in an interview with Trinity News earlier today, Thomas Hanlon, the chair of Trinity Sinn Féin, had said that Deputy McDonald’s address would be taking place on campus as planned.
He described it as the branch’s “first major event of the year”. When asked about the possibility of a protest taking place, he said that “people have a right to protest”, but that he would encourage students to “come and ask questions [at the event]”.
He said that the Irish media has used the Maíria Cahill case as a “political ploy” and that it is “in many ways a diversion from Irish Water”. Sinn Féin politicians had answered most questions “reasonably well” and “appealed to people abused by the IRA to come forward,” he added.
The event’s cancellation comes amid a student protest held outside the Hamilton building, where Deputy McDonald was due to appear tonight. The peaceful demonstration, attended by between 10 and 20 students, had been planned to show support with Ms. Cahill, who has accused Sinn Féin’s president, Gerry Adams, of covering up her sexual abuse at the hands of an IRA member.
Trevor Ó Clochartaigh, the Sinn Féin senator, has since replaced Deputy McDonald at tonight’s event.
Additional reporting by Clare Droney.
Photos by Kevin O’Rourke.