Thursday 12 December 2019

McDonald's Dail sit-in 'to cost the taxpayer €130,000'

Niall O'Connor

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has been accused of causing a loss of almost €130,000 to the Exchequer following her controversial decision to shut down the Dail for over four hours last week.

It was claimed last night that Ms McDonald's actions, which have been dubbed an "outrageous stunt", will result in the Dail's schedule being altered in order to accommodate a debate on social welfare. The Dublin Central TD has been widely criticised after she point blankly refused to leave the chamber on Thursday despite a vote by TDs to suspend her.

The government parties, as well as members of the Opposition, believe the sit-in was designed to deflect attention away from Sinn Fein's treatment of Mairia Cahill and the IRA sex abuse scandal.

The political row is set to escalate today after Labour claimed Ms McDonald's actions have cost the taxpayer almost €130,000.

The bill for running the Houses of the Oireachtas last year came to a total of €101m.

This overall sum includes the combined costs of running the Dail, Seanad and Committee business.

The party said that on this basis, it calculates that Ms McDonald's decision to bring the Dail to a halt for four-and-a-half hours last week cost the taxpayer an estimated €129,040.

Cork South West TD Michael McCarthy said the analysis carried out by the party illustrates the high cost of Ms McDonald's "outrageous" exercise.

"Mary Lou's outrageous stunt cost the Exchequer some €130,000 by shutting the Dail down and forcing it to reschedule vital business until Tuesday," he told the Irish Independent.

"By crudely sabotaging the important work of our national parliament, she not only held up a Dail debate on increasing child benefit, but also cost the Exchequer a huge amount in lost sitting hours, which now have to be made up," he added.

Sinn Fein will today discuss the fallout from Ms McDonald's Dail sit-in. The party is embroiled in a bitter war of words with Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett after he followed Dail procedure and suspended Ms McDonald. Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has said he has no confidence in Mr Barrett - a claim that his opponents believe is disrespectful to the institutions of the Oireachtas.

It is widely felt within political circles that Mr Adams has been left damaged as a result of his Dail contribution during a debate on the issue of IRA sex abuse.

The Louth TD has also refused to withdraw highly controversial remarks he made about Independent News & Media during a lavish Sinn Fein dinner in New York. Mr Adams appeared to joke about a gun being placed against the head of the editor of the Irish Independent over 90 years ago - a comment that was condemned both at home and abroad.

Sinn Fein did not respond to a request for comment.

Irish Independent

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