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Mary Lou McDonald: How did the Sinn Féin leader and her husband Martin Lanigan fund their costly Dublin home on modest incomes?

In this extract from his new book, Shane Ross explores how Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and her husband renovated their Dublin home.

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Mary Lou McDonald with Martin Lanigan and their children. Picture by James Horan/Photocall Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald with Martin Lanigan and their children. Picture by James Horan/Photocall Ireland

Mary Lou McDonald, Martin Lanigan and their son at a polling station in 2009

Mary Lou McDonald, Martin Lanigan and their son at a polling station in 2009

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Mary Lou McDonald with Martin Lanigan and their children. Picture by James Horan/Photocall Ireland

On May 20, 2010, Dublin City Council received an intriguing planning application. It was made in the name of a man called Martin Lanigan. A few days earlier, the planning notice had appeared in the Sunday Business Post, followed by a site notice at New Cabra Road, Cabra, Dublin 7. The notice didn’t cause a ripple, probably because no one had ever heard of Martin Lanigan and because the Sunday Business Post had a small circulation.

The bungalow on the site was vacant. It was, however, still technically owned by a successful Mayo solicitor, Brendan Flanagan. He was the legal personal representative of the former owner, the late Mary Stafford, a member of the local Fianna Fáil Stafford family. Flanagan was a well-known Fianna Fáil activist. Martin Lanigan, who had a ‘contract to purchase’ the property, was not yet the legal owner, despite being the applicant for planning permission.


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