A Panel Beating


Clockwise from top left: Alison OConnor, Fionnan Sheahan, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and RTÉ’s Seán O’Rourke;

This morning.

On RTÉ Radio One’s Today with Seán O’Rourke.

Ireland editor of the Irish Independent Fionnan Sheahan, Irish Examiner columnist Alison O’Connor and RTÉ’s Niamh Lyons joined Mr O’Rourke to discuss last night’s leaders’ debate on RTÉ’s Prime Time.

The panel discussion followed Mr O’Rourke interviewing Breege Quinn about the murder of her 21-year-old son Paul Quinn in Monaghan in 2007, following comments made by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald during last night’s debate.

During the interview with Ms Quinn, she said Sinn Féin’s Minister for Finance in the North Conor Murphy should resign or be stood down as minister.

Following this, Mr O’Rourke asked the panelists how the matter might effect the election “in the last three crucial days”.

Alison O’Connor: “Well I suppose, Seán. First of all, I mean, that Breege Quinn, I mean, what, I found myself really moved by her interview and almost close to tears at times. What she’s been through, her immense dignity and even where she said, at the end, two wrongs not making a right.

There are a lot of people as we know who want to vote Sinn Féin in this election. People who would not have considered it before and it’s for understandable reasons because they say want change and they’re not expecting to get that change from Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael.

But I think that, in a funny sort of a way, it’s this blowing up at this time is not a bad thing. Because this is part and parcel of Sinn Féin’s history and their past and that we see this playing out. People will be able to make, I believe, a fully informed choice.

“And in a way, it gets to the heart, I mean this is something that happened 13 years ago. And Mary Lou McDonald is implying, saying, whatever, that in that space of time and even in more recent times, I mean, it has come up, Mrs Quinn was on [RTÉ’s] Drivetime the other day as well, that she didn’t have either then, now or in the last couple of years a full conversation with Conor Murphy, a very senior member of her party, to see where exactly things stand.

Either a) that just doesn’t have credibility or b) shockingly, it’s very far down the list of the party’s priorities. And I would also say, as someone who observes, has been observing politics for a long time, this is the bit that fascinates me. If Sinn Féin are in Government, in a coalition arrangement, and we’ll say that was actually an interview on Prime Time last night, and Mary Lou McDonald was a minister and she was asked that question by Miriam O’Callaghan and gave that unsatisfactory an answer, how that plays, how we’ll say the Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael side of the house would cope would that. And the fall-out from that sort of thing.

“And my final point as well then is, just watching it as a viewer last night, I thought Miriam O’Callaghan did magnificently with the questioning. Why didn’t Leo Varadkar and Micheál Martin, I thought, in terms of, just purely point scoring which it seems wrong to bring that level of it to this conversation, did not pile in, did not ask any questions?”

O’Rourke: “Well, perhaps because they felt dignity required and also the political reality, nothing needed to be said. Fionnan Sheahan, I suppose when it came to other aspects of law and order and the ugly side of our relatively recent history, the question of the Special Criminal Court was one that Mary Lou McDonald struggled on as well?

Fionnan Sheahan: “Yeah you’re colleague Bryan Dobson has a three-question rule. He says on TV, when you ask somebody a question three times and they haven’t answered it, the viewer at home can quite clearly see ‘well, they’re not answering the question’. Miriam O’Callaghan went further, she asked the question four times and Mary Lou McDonald failed to answer that question about the Special Criminal Court.

“Sinn Féin’s position now is that they say they want to review the Special Criminal Court. They have opposed the Offences Against The State Act every time it has come up in the Dáil over the past generation which implies that they are opposed to the Special Criminal Court. So Mary Lou McDonald could not come out with a straight-forward [inaudible] last night, saying ‘I’m in favour of the Special Criminal Court’ which not only affects prosecutions of alleged members of a terrorist organisation but also is a key element of combatting gangland crime.

“So I mean, in effect, you are seeing in a situation like the murder of Paul Quinn, north of the border. However there are situations where is nigh impossible to get witnesses into the witness box and that’s why we…”

O’Rourke: “I suppose looking at this, Niamh Lyons, like all political change, sorry, like a lot of political change, it has to be done crab-like. That’s how they got to the ceasefire over a quarter of a century ago and it was interesting looking at Eoin Ó Broin on the Virgin Media analysis, the post-match analysis, he was saying, just by way of clarification on that, Sinn Féin, yes they want a review of the courts and they want it done by a senior judicial figure and they will accept the outcome. So if that recommendation is the Special Criminal Court stays, they’re happy for it to say.”

Niamh Lyons: “Yeah and there has been criticism of the Special Criminal Court by the likes of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties,  Amnesty International. I think the issue here, for Mary Lou McDonald, is that she wanted to be front and centre in that debate last night. She put herself up there, playing the senior hurling but she wasn’t at the match at all.

“And this is where I suppose the rubber hits the road for her candidacy. You know, when you hear her, that accusation that, you know, who runs Sinn Féin? On that issue and the Special Criminal Court and on the issue of Paul Quinn, she’s unable to pivot in her own position and if you go on the Sinn Féin website, you’ll see a picture of Mary Lou, you’ll see Pearse Doherty, Michelle O’Neill and Conor Murphy.

“He’s one of the top four people in the party. He’s their lead negotiator. So why is she not allowed pivot away from something that he has previously said. You know, why is she so on the backfoot on this issue. Why does she sit down in front of Bryan Dobson, not knowing that not only had Conor Murphy made those claims but Gerry Adams in the past has made those claims. Why did she not check it out? Is she following a particular line?

O’Connor: “I mean that’s the heart of it. This is a woman at the peak of her…this is a woman at the peak of her political powers right…”

Talk over each other

O’Rourke: ‘But is there a light-touch relationship with the truth? You know, I mean she, in this studio, sitting where Fionnan is sitting, she said she believed Gerry Adams when he said he wasn’t a member of the IRA.”

O’Connor: “Actually Seán, I’m trying to…she didn’t quite say that. She said something like ‘you accept’…because I remember hearing that interview, I’m trying to remember her wording now, it was a very particular wording and…of course the criminal court was going to come up. I’ve heard her address it previously in the campaign. Of course the Quinn story was going to come up. So I find it very interesting, I didn’t see Eoin Ó Broin last night.

“So Eoin Ó Broin, who’s of lesser standing, if you like, than the leader is able to say that Sinn Féin would accept the outcome of a review into the Special Criminal Court. So it gets back to the heart of that issue, where we wonder, who pulls the strings on these sorts of issues, the whole, as Micheál Martin calls it, the old provos issue and why Mary Lou McDonald doesn’t appear to have the absolute autonomy as party leader on these issues.”

O’Rourke: “Let’s move to another…”

Sheahan: “The issue I suppose is that: do people care?

O’Rourke: “Well…”

Talk over each other

O’Connor: “Yeah, that’s an interesting…”

Sheahan: “The calculation Sinn Féin will make now is ‘well, you know, how many people are going to know who Paul Quinn was and how it was that he died and how many people, the man on the street, is going to know who Conor Murphy is? And that’s all stuff north of the border’…”

O’Rourke: “Yes, and there are atrocities on all sides…”

Sheahan: “Yeah.”

O’Rourke: “And if you go back long enough into the history of all the parties, very bad things happened. Now let’s move to another aspect of this debate…”

Listen back in full here

Earlier: How Was It For You?

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98 thoughts on “A Panel Beating

    1. newsjustin

      What bias? You’re aware this is an excerpt from the full conversation, yes?

      What did they say that is not true, or not relevant following the leader’s debate last night where these issues all came up?

    2. Iwerzon

      This ‘shroud waving’ as John Hume called it is despicable ‘journalism’ and electioneering, using a terrible murder of a young man to score political points, its a desperate move and FF/FG/RTÉ are rattled and shook!!

      1. newsjustin

        What’s worse? To make a political party uncomfortable by pointing out and asking questions about a young man’s murder (questions his own mother wants answered) or staying quiet about his murder to ensure that political party isn’t made uncomfortable? Which do you prefer?

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Can’t remember, but did Leo get asked about Grace? or Bridget McCole – a lady hounded by Noonan? And did M. Martin get asked anything about the Fr. Niall Molloy case?
          Bad journalism at the least – contrived bias would be my opinion.

  1. RuilleBuille

    The establishment out in force to bash SF as usual.

    There is no question that Paul Quinn was a smuggler – his parents have admitted that in the past. But that is no reason to kill him in such a manner. Locally who killed him is in dispute. Some say smugglers and some say ex-IRA men.

    1. newsjustin

      Who killed Robert McCartney and Jean McConville?

      Do you think there are members of Sinn Féin who know?

    2. Iwerzon

      Bertie Ahern told the Dial in Nov 2007 that the Gardai informed him that Paul Quinn’s murder was to do with a criminal feud. Is Michael Martin going to apologise to Breege Quinn for this remark?

        1. Kate

          What actually matters is that a group of cowards battered a young man to within an inch of his life. It’s as gruesome as dismembering that young lad in Louth last month, or murdering that young polish father with machetes in Cork in front of his wife and children.
          Exceptional brutality deserves exceptional policing to convict these monsters to a life sentence behind bars.

        2. yupyup

          I wonder what prompted both Bertie Ahern and Conor Murphy to link this killing to criminality at the time?

          1. GiggidyGoo

            Good question. And reading the link supplied, Ahern also said that there was no evidence of paramilitary involvement.
            So a pretty biased angle of questioning of McDonald. Michilín should have been asked the same question about Ahern.

    3. Lilly

      Where did you get this info Ruille? Pretty sure I heard his parents deny any involvement in smuggling on their son’s part.

  2. Lilly

    I’m surprised, at and disappointed with, Alison O’Connor. As for Fionnan Sheahan, par for the Indo-course.

  3. paul

    If they’re laying these (maybe) IRA-connected deaths at Mary-Lou’s door, can we lay the deaths directly connected to the recession at FF’s door and homeless deaths on FG’s?

    1. newsjustin

      Only if you think wilful murder is the same as mismanagement of the macro-economy leading eventually and indirectly to people dying. Most reasonable people don’t.

        1. newsjustin

          Yes. Their armed wing, which they share a membership with murdered people.

          This can’t be news to you.

          1. newsjustin

            Do you think Sinn Fein has murderers amongst its membership? Gun-runners? Kidnappers? Bomb-makers? People who knee-capped others? People who gave punishment beatings?

          2. GiggidyGoo

            Of course if you know that, you’ll skip along to your local Garda station, and to the local Police station to lay out your proof. Like Regina Doherty did?

          3. GiggidyGoo

            Rob-G…..Why are you providing a link that has nothing to do with this case? And doesn’t back up your statement? Very poor

  4. GiggidyGoo

    As predicted last week.

    Now that they haven’t Gerry Adams to throw muck at (maybe deservedly), the RTE and INM media folk of this world are struggling for a way to connect McDonald to the IRA past. It isn’t working, and it’s seen through – because FF FG have skeletons in their closets that Miriam (Sister of FF Front Bench TD Jim) O’Callaghan is unwilling or obligingly refusing to ask about.
    The game is up. FFG have lost ground. The electorate in finally realizing how they have been taken as suckers for a century by FFG, and the past half century by RTE and the likes of the Indo.
    No wonder FFG want to shut down debate and free speech.

    1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

      I think people are more spooked the by the attitudes and loyalties to the skeletons in the SF closet frankly.
      Mary Lou notoriously describing Thomas Slab Murphy (apparently gave the green light to the Paul Quinn beating – among god knows how many others) as a good republican during his trial.

          1. Brother Barnabas

            jeez, scottser, the way you’re talking, anyone would think bloated expense claims are, like, stealing from the public purse or something

            as every good Young FGer knows, these are perks that come with privilege and entitlement

          2. Cian

            jeez, BB, the way you’re talking, anyone would think €50,000 worth of toner for printers are, like, stealing from the public purse or something

            as every good Young SFer knows, these are perks that come with privilege and entitlement

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Different species of attitudes and loyalties Theo. The results are actually very similar as regards child abuse and cover ups. I mentioned two here earlier.
        If you go back into FF and FG history you will find a history of killings and whatever you like. And it’s not good enough to say that those happened decades ago, while producing the opposite argument in order to get one up on SF.

        Tell me how many people have ‘legally’ lost their life in this country courtesy of failed healthcare and mental healthcare decisions by government (FF or FG at the helm for almost a century) . Dissect the excuses given for the failings (we didn’t have the money? etc.). Bullpoo.

        1. theo kretschmar schuldorff

          When the progenitors of FF & FG had the weapons out, they were mostly in the business of killing each.
          SF’s lot make war on us by intimidation.

          Re. church abuse and FF or FG record in gov: I neither go to mass nor vote for those two. SF might answer for themselves without the whataboutery.

          1. GiggidyGoo

            My point wasn’t about church abuse. It wasn’t whataboutery either. It was pointing out how RTÉ INM etc. aren’t questioning FF FG on their records.
            Who you support doesn’t matter to my point, which is above.
            Grace wasn’t church abuse way
            Bridget McCole wasn’t church abuse by the way

    2. newsjustin

      “…..the RTE and INM media folk of this world are struggling for a way to connect McDonald to the IRA past.”

      Eh….Derek Mooney (regular contributor on Broadsheet) posted a photo on Twitter yesterday of Mary Lou McDonald speaking at a podium emblazoned with the crest of the “Derry Brigade – Oglaigh na hEireann”. In fairness, nobody is “struggling” to link MLM to the IRA.

      1. GiggidyGoo

        Sure Charlie Flanagan twittered himself about his support and admiration of a racist sportsman. Even a photo shoot.
        That’s of course if you want to go down the twitter road of argument.

    3. A Person

      Hey Goo, I know you left at 5.30 from SF HQ last night, but why not respond to the questions I posted:

      SF involvement in previous and ongoing criminality? how you are funded? how come you are run by people in NI? how come Gerry won’t admit to being in the RA?

      Also why not name the people involved in Paul Quinn’s torture and murder?

        1. dav

          I think he/she/they was quiet upset at their shower losing to the shinners.. Wandering around this site looking for a fight. Kind of pathetic in a way..

          1. A Person

            Still can’t answer the questions posted. Did the Belfast 6 not approve.? Using words like Aye and Assembly, you should just go next door for approval. Are you knocking off at 5.30 again lads?

          2. GiggidyGoo

            Tsk tsk Millie. I had you as being above that type of comment. I guess that it’s the last bastion when someone runs out of arguments (or hasn’t put forward one in the first place) on the discussion, to comment about the poster rather than the subject matter. I’d have expected more from you actually.

          3. millie vanilly strikes again

            Oh I was poking fun at A Person’s utterly stupid copy paste comments today where everyone was accused of being a member of the SF online army.

            My comment was entirely in jest, GG. I totally agree with you, calling someone a shill/bot is the lowest form of online debate, and the fallback of someone who has no other defence.

          4. millie vanilly strikes again

            No worries. I forget not everyone can hear my heavily sarcastic tone of voice as I type ;)

          5. A Person

            And still no reply. Millie, please tell me you are not Goo? I asked the same question of 3 “people” who could not reply either last night or today. I don’t get why I am a “shrill” for asking legitimate questions. Maybe that’s how the shiners shut down debate. If you are all so clever, answer the questions? Ah go on.

          6. millie vanilly strikes again

            I am not calling you a shill, A Person – nor am I a clone account or sock puppet of account of GG. I think your copy pasting of the questions and coupled with the SF HQ remarks are deserving of, if not mockery, then maybe a little light teasing? Because it is funny. I doubt most of the regular commenters here are shills or anything remotely of that ilk (even RobG and Cian, who are regularly accused of such things) and as I said above, it is a lazy fallback of someone who has no other defence or point to make.

            As to your questions, I can’t answer. I have no affiliation with SF, and have never voted for them. This is the first election I have ever even considered my local SF candidate as a viable option, simply because she has done great work in the constituency, as I’ve mentioned in my other comments on the election.

            I doubt you’ll get an answer to your questions, in fairness. At least, not those ones, not here.

          7. GiggidyGoo

            Why would A think anyone here can answer his questions, as they’re so specific? Does he think that people here are members of SF? That they are part of the decision makers?
            God help us, but he is getting aerated over something he has told himself.

          8. Pat Mustard

            Remember when A Person claimed that the shinners were behind the people trafficking ring from the incident in Essex.

            Remember the time A Person claimed the shinners were behind the intimidation of QIH.

            Remember when A Person claimed the shinners were behind the incident at the forced eviction in Strokestown.

            Waffler extraordinnaire..

  5. dav

    Top story on the news at one at the moment, a pity no journalist didn’t uncover these comments sooner, leo could have won the election!

    1. A Person

      Hey Dav , I know you left at 5.30 from SF HQ last night, but why not respond to the questions I posted:

      SF involvement in previous and ongoing criminality? how you are funded? how come you are run by people in NI? how come Gerry won’t admit to being in the RA?

      Also why not name the people involved in Paul Quinn’s torture and murder?

      1. dav

        A Person, you weren’t around this morning, I take it somebody brought you home from fg central late last night,foaming at the mouth?

        1. A Person

          Hello Goo, dav and Fart? It’s 6 are you gone again? Aye, you are, back to the Assembly. Seriously? Where are you? BS merchants. Why can you not answer the questions posted yesterday? Are you just clowns or what? Ask Gerry to reply, if you cannot.

        2. GiggidyGoo

          Time for the child ‘A’ to toddle along to bed. It’s been quite a difficult day in the nursery for you. There there there.

          1. A Person

            So answer the questions? I know I’ll have to repeat them (yes it is cut and paste):

            SF involvement in previous and ongoing criminality? how you are funded? how come you are run by people in NI? how come Gerry won’t admit to being in the RA?

            Also why not name the people involved in Paul Quinn’s torture and murder?

          2. GiggidyGoo

            Why do you assume I’m in a position to answer those questions. I asked that further up the thread – you didn’t reply.

          3. GiggidyGoo

            There is such a thing as debate. Once you start assuming, you’re lost. And your lost.

  6. Madam X

    You know what. ? Were people asking the same questions to FF when they were assuming power in th 1930s? We have a corrupt 2 party system and the people are no longer prepared to accept it. Meanwhile the state organs are in over drive trying to prevent it. Waken up people. unless you want more corruption more homelessness more poverty created by FFG

      1. Cian

        Do you think they are nervous of the Knee-Capping Party (SF)?

        Oh. What fun we can have with strawmen!

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Oh what fun it is to ride in an open horseless sleigh Cian. Enjoy your trip. The defense/support of FG is waning. Noonan wants Daffy as leader. Varadkar told us last night that the rent freeze in Berlin wasn’t working – but it’s only been in effect for 5 days. Jeez Cian, stop will ya!

      1. scottser

        The IMC stated that IRA did not authorize the murder of Paul Quinn, though some active or former members may have been involved. 23 people have been arrested but nobody has been charged with his killing.
        So unless you have proof, why are you blaming this on SF?

        1. Rob_G

          The idea that some randomers would be able to organise the necessary logistics to kidnap his three friends and hold them in a barn til he got there, let them go, spend hours beating him to death, render the crime scene forensically sterile, and keep everyone in the surrounding countryside in enough fear not to report anything to the authorities, is naive in the extreme.

  7. 01101101 01100011


    these people think they’re smart except tho I suspect they don’t understand how people under the age of 25 work

    at a breakout today there was a good bit of chat about last night here’s how this issue was seen (I’m paraphrasing)

    jeees they fairly nailed her on that thing in Northern Ireland didn’t they?

    (various comments followed…some I don’t give a fiddlers, some ah there’s ropey stuff up there alright, some well at least she said she’s gonna sort it)
    conclusion: tho look at what she did tho today!! as promised she clipped yer mans wings, didn’t mess about or waffle or bs, smacked him down, public apology made, job done.

    think about that everyone. that’s what me and my mates see and hear. this issue became a big deal but she listened, swiftly dealt with it, affirmative action, one of her party admonished….no fobbing or mealy mouthed platitudes a la varadker or martin when one of theirs like Maria Swinger was caught out or that utter con artist snared double jobbing or all those FF fake vote lads

    there y go

    1. class wario

      There’s a generation of people in Ireland currently who have zero attachment to the troubles. But what they do see is their own inability to own their own home, rising rents in a dysfunctional housing market, more and more homeless families on our streets, rising insurance costs, climate emergencies etc. and on top of that they see the ‘ruling classes’ acting the bollocks like you say. maria bailey trying to pull the wool over everybody’s eyes means a lot more to these people than whatever somebody adjacent to somebody adjacent to McDonald said 15 years ago. God knows they’ve been trying the past 24-48 hours to hammer the IRA stuff and doubtless it will work with a lot of people but FG/FF have shot themselves in the foot first and foremost

  8. Ringsend Incinerator

    Who gives a flying fupp about Paul Quinn up to yesterday? He’ll be forgotten by Sunday.

    1. class wario

      Fact. These opportunists couldn’t give a fupp about Paul Quinn or Mairia Cahill or whoever else beyond whatever political capital they can have extracted from them

      1. A Person

        Fact? Seriously? A brutal murder and constant sexual abuse, the following cover up, is okay in your eyes? You think its political that someone was murdered, someone was abused. As a victim of abuse myself, I find your flippant remarks abhorrent.

        1. Daisy Chainsaw

          What have Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, who’ve both been in charge since this brutal murder happened, done to bring Quinn’s murderers to justice? Why haven’t they been so vocal about his murder since 2007? Why is it only an issue now? Their Ministers for Justice did nothing, the Gardai, under FF and FG stewardship haven’t brought his killers to justice, but somehow the shinners – who I won’t be voting for – are the ones to blame?

          And I’d also like to know your opinion on Noonan presenting a woman with intellectual disabilities to loyal party member to use as a sex toy.

        1. Rob_G

          Jesus – I always thought you were just a common-or-garden blowhard, but you are genuinely hateful person

    2. GiggidyGoo

      Exactly. We’ve had Mairia Cahill paraded by Kenny and Martin, and then spat out once her use was spent.
      Same here. Those two parties have no shame.

      1. Pat Mustard

        No shame, plenty of useful idiots though.

        Witch Zappone, closeted millionaire leader of the Labour Party Howlin, phoney progressive Ryan..

        1. GiggidyGoo

          Zappone on the way out. Howlin will hang on – instead of handing over the reins to a george Lawlor. Once a snout always a snout.

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