Tuesday 18 December 2018

Varadkar accuses SF leader of Champagne snub to war dead and the President

Mary Lou McDonald has had a torrid few months
Mary Lou McDonald has had a torrid few months
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has been accused of "drinking Champagne and eating $400-a-plate lunches with the super-rich" while other political leaders were marking Armistice Day.

The accusation was made by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar while replying to questions from Ms McDonald about a proposed reduction in tax breaks for some workers.

Mr Varadkar said it was to call out what he described as the "hypocrisy" of Sinn Féin who we "know for years and years they told porkies about their own salaries".

The Taoiseach said he was surprised to read in the Irish Independent that on November 11, when other politicians were at Armistice events and Michael D Higgins's inauguration, Ms McDonald was "hobnobbing with the super-rich" in New York.

The Sinn Féin leader missed the commemorations and inauguration as she took part in a series of events in the United States and Canada, including a major party fundraiser believed to have brought in around €500,000.

"This is rank hypocrisy from Sinn Féin. We hear it far too often. We have already seen the leader of Sinn Féin exposed in her attitude to the Armistice and her attitude to our President and our Constitution. She chose to hobnob with the super-rich in America at a $400-a-plate lunch rather than respect the war dead or respect our President," Mr Varadkar told the Dáil.

Ms McDonald gave just a one-line response to the statements, saying she had attended a remembrance service in Sligo on November 14 "which was absolutely wonderful and inclusive".

It prompted Mr Varadkar to have a second attack, claiming her party comes into the Dáil "day after day, and accuses us of having some sort of special relationship with the super- rich and of having the wrong priorities".

"We see members of Sinn Féin trying to claim that somehow they can put themselves in the shoes of low-paid shop workers while we know for years and years they told porkies about their own salaries. I refer to the false claim that they were living on the average industrial wage. We actually know they were living very well on the wages they were claiming," he said.

The Dublin Central TD previously said Sinn Féin was well represented by its own Áras candidate Liadh Ní Riada, Donegal TD Pearse Doherty and MLA Conor Murphy.

Put to her that if Ms Ní Riada had won, she would have attended, Ms McDonald replied: "I don't know that.

"I had a long-term commitment to go to the States and to Canada. This is the first occasion as party leader. It's important that I was there," she said last week.

Irish Independent

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