‘That’s the ironic thing. I don’t know him at all, I’ve never had a conversation with him’
Former Sinn Féin councillor Jonathan Dowdall, who is currently giving evidence against Mr Hutch in relation to the murder of David Byrne at the Regency Hotel, was also present at the white-collar boxing event at Croke Park in February of that year.
“I did not meet Gerard Hutch at that event or ever, actually,” Ms McDonald told The Irish Examiner. “That’s the ironic thing. I don’t know him at all, I’ve never had a conversation with him.
“The place was absolutely packed to the rafters," she added. “I don’t know if you’ve been to these boxing events, but the light is dim, you don’t get to see.
"I’m not a person of huge height so I didn’t get to see who was in the room, so that’s all I can tell you.”
The court has heard a claim by Dowdall during a taped conversation with Hutch that Ms McDonald had used the Hutch family for money and votes.
Ms McDonald described the claim as “untrue", adding that she is certain no member of the Hutch family has given money to Sinn Féin.
When asked if she would have gone to the event if she knew Hutch would be there, she said: “I don’t know, to be honest with you.
“Would I have gone? I don’t know [is] the honest-to-God answer.” She said the event was for a charitable cause and she had met the family she believed was to benefit from the funds raised.
The Dublin Central TD, who shared a constituency with Dowdall, described him as “successful businessman” with a “beautiful family” when he was chosen as a party candidate.
“His wife was a civil servant, there was nothing that would have caused me to believe that he would go on to be capable of the things that he clearly was capable of,” she added.
She said Dowdall was a “family man, so if I missed what he was capable of going on to do, I suspect that other people missed that as well”.
She pointed out that Dowdall gave young people from the inner city a chance by offering them apprenticeships.
“His company if you go and look at the clients that he had, I mean Bank of America, the Dublin Airport Authority, you know a big, big client base.”
However, he would not have been in her party and “wouldn’t have been within a mile” of her, she insisted, if she had known what Dowdall would go on to do.
Asked how she will make sure in the future to avoid having people like Jonathan Dowdall in the party she said: “People come to Sinn Féin from all walks of life, and you meet and accept people into activism in good faith. That’s how I meet people.
“I accept people in good faith until I have evidence as to why I shouldn’t and Sinn Féin activists, there’s thousands of us and they are people in good standing and of good faith.
“But you will have a sort of a black swan incident once in a lifetime.”
Ms McDonald said she was not presented with evidence to kick Dowdall out of the party prior to him leaving.
On Tuesday, Dowdall expressed regret over his “unfair” comments about Ms McDonald.
When asked why she thought Dowdall sought to clarify comments he had made about her, she said: “I am not a mind reader but I can tell you that the remarks he had made on the tape about me were untrue.
“I can tell you that much; beyond that I cannot speculate.
“I'm a law-abiding, honourable person.”