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Mary-Lou McDonald accused of 'using PAC for her own political ends'

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Mary Lou McDonald outside the Dail

Mary Lou McDonald outside the Dail

Mary Lou McDonald named five former ministers as having clandestine offshore accounts

Mary Lou McDonald named five former ministers as having clandestine offshore accounts

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Mary Lou McDonald outside the Dail

SINN Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has been criticised by fellow members of the Dail Public Accounts Committee (PAC) for naming six politicians listed in the Ansbacher dossier.

Ms McDonald said she named the politicians in a bid to force an independent inquiry into how claims made by a Department of Jobs whistleblower were investigated.

A host of well-known former government ministers have said they never held Ansbacher accounts after the Sinn Fein TD read their names in the Dail in relation to allegations of the accounts set up in the 1970s.

Ms McDonald used Dail privilege to name six politicians in total as being implicated in the Ansbacher accounts scandal.

She also alleged that former Progressive Democrat leader Mary Harney stopped an off-shore tax probe because the name of her former party leader, Des O’Malley, was linked to the probe. She denied the allegations.

The inquiry into Ansbacher accounts was set up under authorised officer Gerard Ryan, a Dept of Enterprise Civil Servant-turned whistleblower.

Ms Harney, a successor to O’Malley as leader of the Progressive Democrats, said that she was concerned about the slow progress of his investigation from 2001.

She said she asked Mr Ryan to complete it in 2004 because she faced a reshuffle in Bertie Ahern’s coalition government and wanted the report finalised.

Today, Fine Gael TD John Deasy said Ms McDonald had “conveniently ignored” a decision taken by the PAC on Tuesday night to wait until after today’s questioning of Revenue Commissioners officials before deciding on what further action to take about the dossier.

At a meeting of the committee this morning, Mr Deasy accused Ms McDonald of “talking out both sides of her mouth” on the issue.

He said she was “damaging the committee”.

“You are using it for your own political ends and you have to stop it,” he said.

Ms McDonald described his claim as “nonsense”.

She said she was “perfectly entitled” to do what she had done as a member of the Oireachtas.

“It is my view that the full breadth of what is alleged in the dossier cannot be inquired into by the committee,” she said.

Ms McDonald said the allegations in the dossier were “considerable, and wide-ranging”.

But the legal advice received by the committee had made it absolutely clear that it was beyond its remit to capture all the issues raised in the dossier, she said.

Labour TD Joe Costello also criticised Ms McDonald for acting as she did.

He said it was incorrect of Ms McDonald to say in the Dail that the PAC could not investigate the dossier properly.

“It was totally untrue to say we had come to the end of the road and couldn’t go further,” he said.

Des O’Malley said that while he had a legitimate Guinness & Mahon account, he never had an Ansbacher account and had been cleared of the dossier allegations by the Moriarty Tribunal.

Others named by Ms McDonald in the Dail were former EU Commissioners, Ray MacSharry and Maire Geoghegan Quinn; former Fine Gael Finance Minister Richie Ryan; former Fianna Fail Justice Minister Gerry Collins; and an “S Barrett”.

The five former ministers each denied ever holding Ansbacher accounts, which were used by hundreds of Irish people to avoid tax from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s.

hnews@herald.ie


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