Sunday 19 November 2017

Sinn Féin deputy's PAC role now 'in question'

John Deasy
John Deasy

Daniel McConnell Group Political Correspondent

SINN Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has been branded a disgrace for "abusing Dáil privilege" in naming former politicians as allegedly having off-shore accounts for the purpose of tax evasion.

But last night her position on the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has been called into question by Government members, after she was found to have abused her parliamentary privilege when she named six former politicians as being accused of alleged tax evasion.

PAC vice-chairman John Deasy (pictured), who strongly rebuked Ms McDonald in public session about her comments at the time, said last night that the committee must now consider her actions.

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Mr Deasy said: "No one person can use the PAC or privilege for their own political ends. The PAC will deal with this when it next meets," he said.

Dublin Mid West Labour TD and PAC member Robert Dowds added to the criticism of Ms McDonald, saying: "I certainly did not approve of what she did. I certainly intend discussing this matter with my colleagues when we meet. It is clear that time and time again, Sinn Féin put themselves first ahead of the country and the people."

But condemnation for Ms McDonald came from across the political spectrum.

Fianna Fáil whip Seán Ó Fearghaíl said Ms McDonald's actions were a disgrace.

"She tried an old-style cynical political stunt at a time when Sinn Féin was in trouble. People were named quite disgracefully," he said.

For her part, Ms McDonald said she stood over her decision to exercise her constitutional right to privilege in the Dáil in the public interest.

Mr Deasy said it was completely unacceptable for her to use Dáil privilege to "smear" the good names of people who were now members of the public.

He said it was now time to deal with it at the committee.

Irish Independent

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