Monday 5 December 2016

Mary Lou accused of 'cover-up' after Dail video edited

Varadkar's attack on TD cut from footage posted on Facebook

Published 23/10/2016 | 02:30

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has been criticised for uploading heavily edited footage of a Dail debate with Social Protection Minister Leo Varadkar on to her personal Facebook page.

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Ms McDonald last week published a video of her first clash with Mr Varadkar during Leaders' Questions in the Dail on Thursday afternoon.

Leo Varadkar Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Leo Varadkar Photo: Douglas O'Connor

Mr Varadkar was widely credited by politicians in both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as having outperformed Ms McDonald during the debate on pay increases for politicians.

However, Sinn Fein uploaded a roughly edited video entitled 'watch as Mary Lou goes through Minister Leo Varadkar as he attempts to defend a €5,000 pay-hike for TDs' on to her Facebook page.

The video removed all references by Mr Varadkar to Sinn Fein policy on social welfare in Northern Ireland.

Instead, it showed Ms McDonald questioning the minister on the Government's decision to increase TD pay and a short clip of Mr Varadkar explaining that their salaries were linked to public service pay.

The video then cuts to the Sinn Fein politician criticising the €5 increase in the weekly pension and the €2.70 rise in Jobseeker payments for under-25s while politicians receive €5,000 pay hikes.

However, during the live debate, Mr Varadkar rounded on Ms McDonald for criticising welfare rates in Ireland when those in receipt of state support in Northern Ireland received far less.

"It is interesting to hear Deputy McDonald attempting to lecture me about what I am saying to pensioners and social welfare recipients in this jurisdiction," the minister said.

"Sinn Fein is in office in Northern Ireland, where it tells pensioners, people who are unemployed, carers and people with disabilities they are worth less than £100 per week.

"The deputy's party tells lone parents in the North whose youngest child is six years of age that they should not be treated any differently from other lone parents.

"Do not pretend to me, Deputy McDonald, that somehow your party is not in charge of that. Remember what you did because you were not willing to make decisions around welfare in Northern Ireland."

Mr Varadkar said Sinn Fein voted in favour of transferring the power to make decisions on social welfare back to Westminster to avoid taking responsibility for cuts in Northern Ireland.

Ms McDonald did not respond to the criticism directly but said she hoped Mr Varadkar would raise his concerns with the Conservative government in Britain.

There was no footage of this section of the debate included in the video uploaded to Ms McDonald's Facebook account, which has been watched by more than 220,000 people.

Fine Gael Waterford TD John Deasy said Ms McDonald was clearly attempting to cover up the fact she lost the debate.

"Leo demolished Sinn Fein on Thursday and you could tell they didn't like it," Mr Deasy told the Sunday Independent.

"Their solution seems to be to alter the evidence and it just proves how impressive he was."

Yesterday, the Sunday Independent asked Sinn Fein why edited footage of the debate was uploaded to Ms McDonald's Facebook account.

This newspaper also asked if Ms McDonald was seeking to misrepresent the content of the Dail debate.

In response, a Sinn Fein spokesman said: "Mary Lou McDonald raised our opposition to the proposal, supported by Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, to increase TD wages from €87,000 to €92,000.

"The minister attempted to divert away from the issue while continuing to justify a pay increase to €92,000. Sinn Fein will continue to oppose this increase."

Sunday Independent

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