Mary Lou McDonald without a mask at the Sinn Féin rally in hotel days before advising people to wear them

Maria Lou McDonald visited a hall sense fine Campaigning without a mask just days before recommending that people wear a mask on public transport and in enclosed spaces “for any period of time”.

Sinn Féin chairman and other senior party members, including vice chair Michelle O’Neill and senior MLA Conor Murphy, were filmed maskless walking through a large crowd of party supporters gathered at the Europa Hotel in Tuesday last week gathered in Belfast.

A video of the event, which was set to launch the Sinn Féin Assembly of Northern Ireland campaign, was posted to Ms O’Neill’s Twitter account, showing that the vast majority of those attending were also not wearing masks.

Five days later, Ms McDonald told RTÉ’s This week Program: “I see a mixed mix in society now, some people are still wearing their masks and I think it’s only personally responsible if you’re on public transport or indoors, certainly for a period of time, that people would do so have their masks on.”

The rally has already drawn criticism for being held at the Europa Hotel, which was bombed more than 30 times during the riots, leading to it being dubbed the most bombed hotel in Europe.

Kenny Donaldson, spokesman for Innocent Victims United, said last week: “Sinn Féin is clearly not using irony to grumble about upholding democracy in the very place the Provisional IRA has systematically attacked on and off, making it the most heavily bombed Hotel makes Europe is bold to say the least.”

Ms McDonald was asked repeatedly on RTÉ Radio 1 last Sunday This week Program if Sinn Féin wanted the return of the mask mandate in Ireland in response to growing demands from health advocacy groups.

Speaking to host Justin McCarthy, Ms McDonald said she wanted “informed public health advice” and “any decision to make anything mandatory across society needs to be informed by the best public health advice we have available”.

Ms McDonald said she did not understand why there had not been a “meeting of spirit between health professionals and their representative bodies and the CMO and the Department of Health, the HSE and the Minister”.

Sinn Féin did not respond to questions about Ms McDonald’s attendance at the rally, subsequent comments to RTÉ, or the party’s position on a mask mandate. Mary Lou McDonald without a mask at the Sinn Féin rally in hotel days before advising people to wear them

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