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Sunday 13 October 2019

Mary Lou McDonald forced to remove 'Yes' badge from jacket in Dail chamber

Sinn Fein's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald wearing a 'Tá' badge in the Dail.
Sinn Fein's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald wearing a 'Tá' badge in the Dail.
Mary Lou McDonald

Daniel McConnell, Group Political Correspondent

Sinn Fein Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald was forced to remove a badge supporting the same sex marriage referendum from her jacket after she displayed it in the Dail chamber, which is against the rules.

Ms McDonald, who faced Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin for more than an hour on Priority Questions, wore the “Ta” badge on her suit jacket throughout exchanges.

However, a short time later, she was approached by an usher who asked her to remove the badge, in order to comply with the rules of the Oireachtas.

It is not permitted for persons in the vicinity of Leinster House to display such badges and ushers within Leinster House have been stopping people displaying them to remove them in recent weeks.

Asked about the incident, a Sinn Fein spokesman told that Ms McDonald acceded to the request to remove the badge when approached by the usher.

“She was asked to take it off by one of the ushers and she did,” the spokesman said.

He added that she was concentrating on her duties in the Dail.

This is not the first time Ms McDonald has fallen foul of the Leinster House authorities.

Last month, she was found to have abused Dail privilege by naming former politicians as allegedly owning off shore Ansbacher accounts for the purpose of evading tax.

The politicians strongly denied the allegations.

She previously caused controversy when she engaged in a several hour sit in following a row with Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett who ordered to leave the Dail chamber.

When she refused to comply with the order, she began her sit in which forced the suspension of the day’s sitting.

On Budget day last October, she was thrown out of the Dail by Mr Barrett after she accused him of acting in a partisan fashion by intervening during her contributions.

Her run in with the authorities follows an incident on RTE where a minister was forced to remove a badge from his suit jacket during an interview.

Last weekend, newly appointed Drugs minister Aodhán Ó’Riordáin was asked to remove a Yes Equality badge from his collar during a live broadcast of the Saturday Night Show.

"Can you take off that pin please," host Brendan O'Connor asked. "The thing you're wearing on your collar. I think its best."

Mr Ó'Riordáin removed it, saying: "It's a yes pin." 

"You've just made it worse. I'm gonna say no. Just to balance you saying yes, I'm gonna say no," O'Connor replied.

The clip has been shared widely on social media, with many criticising the national broadcaster's stance. Former RTÉ DJ Scott de Buitléir said "it just shows how petrified RTÉ are" of the marriage equality referendum.

Mr Ó'Riordáin responded to the situation after the show in his personal Twitter account by posting a picture of himself holding the pin up to a camera, and tagged the Yes Equality campaign.

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