Tuesday 10 December 2019

Watch: Mary Lou McDonald confronted by 'incensed' man on Dublin's Grafton St

Cormac McQuinn, Political Correspondent

SINN Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald was this morning confronted by a member of the public who was "incensed" at her party's policies.

The man, who declined to identify himself but said he ran a small business, accused the party of planning to "kill pensions".

He said he was "apolitical" but that he would probably be voting for Fine Gael.

Ms McDonald had been holding a press conference on Sinn Féin's opposition to water charges on Dublin's Grafton Street when the man interrupted.

"You're going to kill pensions," he claimed.

"No we won't. We won't," Ms McDonald replied.

"Have you seen the figures or can your leader do the maths?," he asked.

She asked who he was and he replied: "a concerned citizen".

"I'm apolitical but I won't be voting for Sinn Féin," he added.

"That's fine. That's your prerogative," Ms McDonald said.

Read more: Gerry Adams plans to double the cost of workers' pensions

He accused the Dublin Central candidate of wanting to "punish" people "who work hard and try and make a life for themselves"

"No I don't," she replied.

"You certainly do. Where the State loses more when someone is made unemployed than the person loses there's something wrong there. When you pay 59pc tax?," the man countered.

Ms McDonald replied: "What I am saying to you is you have to look at the proposals in the round. I understand that not all of our proposals will be universally popular. It's not universally popular to say that you want a third tax band."

She explained that those on more than €100,000 would pay an additional 7c on the euro over the €100,00 mark.

"I'm being honest with you and I'm saying if we wish to balance the books, if we wish to protect society, protect services, to protect low and middle income families then this is the formula to do that."

"The best way to do it Mary Lou is to generate wealth," the man said accusing Sinn Féin of wanting to tax higher paid workers "out of existence".

Ms McDonald said: "Excuse me I'm taxing no one out of existence and I am saying we want - hold on - fair opportunities for people, fair services for people... and I'm sorry if you disagree with me but my position..."

"I do disagree. I feel it in my pocket," the man said.

"Ok my position and our position is people with deeper pockets, people who have a greater ability to pay, yes, have to pay a bit more and I'm sorry if that upsets you but I'm being honest and I'm telling you that that is the lie of the land.

"And if others were honest... if other political parties were honest they would tell you the same thing."

The man said: "The best way for this country is to give young people opportunities."

"Absolutely," Ms McDonald said.

"And taxing them out of existence is not the way," he said, adding: "what about their pensions. Have you looked at the numbers? i don't think your party leader has because he didn't seem to know what was going on yesterday."

Gerry Adams had given an interview to RTE in which he said no one earning below €100,000 "will have to pay one extra penny or lose one extra penny because of the policies that Sinn Fein are bringing out".

However, a worker on €40,000 who pays 10pc into a pension pot could lose out on as much as €800 annually if Sinn Féin's plan to reduce tax relief on private pensions is implemented.

The man confronting Ms McDonald told her "I don't support any political party".

"Really?," she asked.

"Yeah, really... No political party. I'll chat with you any time you want to Mary Lou," he replied.

"Ok well that's fine. We can do that," she added.

He said he "probably will be voting Fine Gael" because of their policy on USC.

"They're abolishing it," Ms McDonald said, adding: "It's €4bn off the balance sheet so good luck when you go to your local hospital."

"You want to talk about the hospitals? You're talking about someone whose had personal experience and I can't see Sinn Féin sorting that out," the man replied, before turning to walk off saying: "Ok best of luck".

He declined to give his name when asked by reporters.

"I've no interest in talking but that's my point," he said.

"Sinn Féin annoy me by the way they go around and I just felt so incensed about it," explaining why he confronted Ms McDonald

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