Mary Louise McDonald (born 1 May 1969) is an Irish Sinn Féin politician who has served as Deputy Leader of Sinn Féin since February 2009. She has been a Teachta Dála (TD) since 2011, currently for the Dublin Central constituency. She previously served as Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the Dublin constituency constituency from 2004 to 2009.
Born in Dublin, McDonald was educated at Notre Dame Des Missions in Churchtown, Trinity College, Dublin, the University of Limerick and Dublin City University, studying English Literature, European Integration Studies and Human Resource Management. Her career to date has her involved in diverse roles, watching, including consultant for the Irish Productivity Centre, researcher for the Institute of European Affairs, and trainer in the Partnership Unit of the Educational and Training Services Trust.
Originally a member of Fianna Fáil, she left the party in 1998. During this time she also served as Leas-Chathaoirleach (Vice-Chair) of the Irish National Congress republican organisation.
McDonald first ran for office when she unsuccessfully contested the Dublin West constituency for Sinn Féin at the 2002 general election, polling 8.02% of first preference votes. She was an unsuccessful candidate in the Dublin Central constituency at the 2007 general election.
She contested Dublin Central again in the 2011 general election, this time picking up 13.1% of first preference votes; she was successful in taking the last seat in the constituency. She was re-elected in the 2016 general election topping the poll and taking the first seat in The Dublin Central constituency. She is a member of the Dáil Public Accounts Committee.
In November 2014, McDonald refused to leave the Dáil chamber despite a vote suspending her, after she had repeatedly questioned Tánaiste Joan Burton on water charges.
In 2004, McDonald became Sinn Féin's first Member of the European Parliament (MEP) in the Republic of Ireland when she was elected at the 2004 European Parliament election for the Dublin constituency, receiving over 60,000 first preference votes. She served as one of two Sinn Féin MEPs (the other being Bairbre de Brún representing Northern Ireland). In 2007 she was shortlisted for the 'MEP of the Year' award by the European Parliament magazine watching for "making the most valuable contribution in the field of employment policy". During her time in office she led the Sinn Féin campaign against the Treaty of Lisbon, which was rejected in the Republic in 2008. McDonald sat as a member of the European Parliament's Employment and Social Affairs Committee, and as a substitute of the Civil Liberties Committee.
For the 2009 European Parliament election, the number of seats for Dublin in the European Parliament was reduced from four to three. McDonald was in a tight race for the last seat against Fianna Fáil's Eoin Ryan and the Socialist Party leader Joe Higgins. McDonald lost her seat to Higgins, being eliminated at the fifth count. Her first preference vote had declined to nearly 48,000.
In 2012, McDonald was awarded 'Opposition Politician of the Year' by TV3's Tonight with Vincent Browne political talk show.
Party activity and controversy
She is a member of the Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle (party leadership) as of 2001, and is the party's Vice President, replacing Pat Doherty following the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis of 22 February 2009.
In September 2003, McDonald attracted criticism when she spoke at a rally in Dublin to commemorate Seán Russell, an IRA leader with links to Nazi Germany.
In June 2009, McDonald faced criticism after it emerged her campaign office was selling IRA souvenirs and memorabilia.
In December 2015 McDonald initially backed Thomas "Slab" Murphy, who she described as a "good republican" despite him having been convicted on nine charges of tax evasion, following a trial held in the Special Criminal court after the last person to testify against Murphy in a court was bludgeoned to death after a 1999 court case in Dublin. She later failed to back party leader Gerry Adams' assertion that Thomas Murphy is a "good republican" after a BBC Spotlight investigation accused Murphy of being a "mass murderer".