Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has taken a “very clear path” towards becoming the first female Taoiseach, according to a leading Irish-American politician.
Congressman Richard Neal, who is Chair of the powerful Ways and Means Committee in the US Congress, praised Ms McDonald and said Sinn Féin’s visits to the US were state-like.
In conversation with the Irish Independentsaid Mr. Neal Sinn Féin understood the “value of international opinion” and that if the party were in government, it would continue to have good relations with the US.
The congressman has represented the Massachusetts District in the US House of Representatives for the past 35 years he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Dublin City University (DCU) last week.
Ms. McDonald and MLA Michelle O’Neill were in Washington for St. Patrick’s Day and attended the Speaker’s Lunch on Capitol Hill hosted by Speaker Nancy Pelosi where President Joe Biden delivered a speech.
Asked if he expects Ms McDonald to become the first female Taoiseach, Mr Neal said: “She has certainly made a very clear path, there is no doubt about that. She is certainly very knowledgeable and she is very articulate.”
The congressman has close ties to Sinn Féin with Ms McDonald to describe him as an incredible ally of the party. He previously called Gerry Adams his longtime “boyfriend.”
He also stood by Mr Adams after he was arrested in 2014 for questioning in connection with the 1972 murder of Jean McConville and later released without charge. Mr Neal said the allegations against Mr Adams were unproven.
Commenting on Sinn Féin’s criticism of the commemoration of IRA officials, Mr Neal said that “Irish independence from the UK was a long and bloody struggle” and that “the commemoration of the lives of the men and women who died in combat was absolutely.” is appropriate”.
“We welcome all political parties here, I have never turned down any political party, whether unionist or nationalist, that has tried to meet me.
“I think it’s very important to keep the dialogue open.”
He said a united Ireland could emerge within 10 years if a border survey is conducted in Northern Ireland.
“The potential for a border poll is part of the Good Friday Agreement. The Foreign Secretary in Northern Ireland has the option, based on hard evidence, that a poll could take place,” he said.
He said he thinks it could be achieved within 10 years though “Part of that will have to be the Irish government, which understands that a lot of these purely Irish institutions work quite well.”
“Trade is a way of getting people to agree and a reminder that part of the HFA is to be found in its ambiguity.
“It suggests if you want to be British you can be British and if you want to be Irish you can be Irish,” Mr Neal said.
“I think it makes a lot more sense to go from two communities to two traditions.”
However, he does not believe There is a risk that Ireland could suffer Brexit-like consequences or see reunification problems return.
“You now have two generations of children who grew up in the North and didn’t have to go through the troubles. It is a long way. There is also a new prosperity that has settled in the North and I think (in terms of the Good Friday Agreement) nobody I know on either side of the previous divide has ever even hinted at going back to the bad old days .”
He also said the principles of the Good Friday Agreement, for which Mr. Biden and Ms. Pelosi stressed their support multiple times last week could help stop the war in Ukraine.
“I think the Health for All principles are applicable anywhere in the world,” he said.
He said he couldn’t understand why NATO wouldn’t welcome Ireland when it asked to join, but Ireland would not be able to remain neutral.
“I didn’t imagine they would have a problem if they made that decision, but again that’s up to Ireland.”
Mr Neal was presented with an honorary doctorate by DCU on Wednesday at a ceremony in Washington where Professor John Doyle recognized his “long experience in supporting and interest in the peace process”. Irish Affairs”.
https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/politics/sinn-feins-mary-lou-mcdonald-has-carved-a-very-clear-path-toward-being-first-female-taoiseach-says-leading-irish-american-congressman-richard-neal-41468815.html Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald has taken a “very clear” path to becoming the first female Taoiseach, says leading Irish-American Congressman Richard Neal