Mary Lou McDonald says 'England get out of Ireland' St Patrick's Day banner was not directed at English people
She has assured the public that its message was not directed at English people.
The leader of Sinn Féin Mary Lou McDonald has elaborate on the "offensive" banner she held at a St. Patrick's Day parade in New York.
The banner read "England Get Out Of Ireland", and it attracted quite a bit of controversy at the time.
She has now attempted to clear up the situation, by saying that it wasn't in fact directed at English people.
According to RTÉ, she said: "For anybody who felt that it was directed at English people, I just want to reassure them that that's not the case."
Later pressed on whether she was inching towards an apology, McDonald replied: "I don't have to inch towards anything... for anybody who felt that it was directed at English people I just want to reassure them that that's not the case.
"Indeed I have blood relatives myself who are English... and English people are very welcome in Ireland.
"Many of them live amongst us, they are our neighbours and our friends, so certainly I apologise to anybody who felt that the banner was intended in that way, and I'm happy to clarify that it's not. It certainly doesn't mean that."
Tánaiste Simon Coveney described the banner as “offensive, divisive and an embarrassment” at the time, and claimed that it was "not leadership".
An opinion poll published by the Sunday Business Post over the weekend showed support for Sinn Féin had dropped by five points to 13%. The figure was 18% in February.
The main beneficiaries of the fall in Sinn Féin's support are other parties on the left, including the Social Democrats, the Green Party and Solidarity-People Before Profit. Each of these parties saw a rise of one point in the poll.