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Chaos in Dail as Burton row forces a Sinn Fein climbdown

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Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh & Sinn Fein Vice President Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh & Sinn Fein Vice President Mary Lou McDonald TD

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Sean Barrett

Sean Barrett

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Sinn Fein TD Aengus O Snodaigh & Sinn Fein Vice President Mary Lou McDonald TD

SINN Fein has been forced into a climbdown over its demands that Tanaiste Joan Burton withdraw her claims that the republican movement has struggled to deal with issues of paedophilia and sexual abuse.

Dail business was suspended on three occasions yesterday, after several Sinn Fein politicians angrily accused Ms Burton of casting a slur on the party.

The heated scenes unfolded during Leaders' Questions, which saw Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald highlight the alleged sexual abuse carried out by suspected paedophile Domhnall O Lubhlai.

The Irish language activist, who died in March of last year, was accused in the Dail of being involved in abusing up to 100 boys.

O Lubhlai faced 56 charges of sexual abuse involving 11 victims in 2002, however, the case never proceeded following a legal challenge.

A review into allegations made against O Lubhlai was ordered last year by former Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald last night denied that a review allegations made against O Lubhlai had been on her desk since July.

Ms McDonald used her Dail speaking time to name one of O Lubhlai's alleged victims, Gearoid O Concubhair.

The TD asked Ms Burton why the review into O Lubhlai's alleged crimes has not yet been provided to Mr O Concubhair and other victims.

The Tanaiste said the issue is a matter for the Justice Department.

However, tempers flared after Ms Burton immediately turned the spotlight back on the republican movement.

She emphasised repeatedly O Lubhlai's strong links to republicanism. Ms Burton then incensed several Sinn Fein TDs by going as far as saying that "paedophilia and child abuse" has been a "problem" within the republican movement.

"We know from the discussion previously, and by the acknowledgements of your party, that there has been a problem of paedophilia and sex abuse, particularly of children, in the republican movements and cover-up," she said.

During the exchanges, Sinn Fein's Aengus O Snodaigh accused the Ceann Comhairle of being biased.

But after a suspension, the Ceann Comhairle said the records had been checked independently and that he has been advised that no slur was made against Sinn Fein.

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams, who this week claimed that names of alleged abusers were posted in the letter box of his Belfast home, was not present during the heated debate.

After Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett returned for a third time, Mr O Snodaigh said the party would not delay the house any further.

One of O Lubhlai's alleged victims, Re O Baoill, told Raidio na Gaeltachta he wanted the Taoiseach and Justice Minister to instruct gardai to reveal any information they have.

He said it should be made public and victims compensated.

Irish Independent