Fianna Fáil did not discuss motion of censure against McDonald

Sinn Féin deputy leader accused of abusing Dáil privilege with Ansbacher allegations

Names in a dossier of former politicians who allegedly held offshore accounts have been read into the Dál record by Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.

 

Fianna Fáil did not discuss a motion of censure against Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald at its weekly parliamentary meeting because it debated three policy documents instead.

The party had indicated it would discuss tabling a motion against Ms McDonald over her decision to use Dáil privilege to name former politicians who were accused of having offshore bank accounts to evade tax at the meeting.

Transport spokesman Timmy Dooley said the party’s focus is now on supporting an automatic sanction being applied to deputies who abuse privilege in the future.

Mr Dooley said: “We now have a situation where an individual did not act in good faith. Therefore, in my view, the rules must reflect that.

“It was enough of a sanction to be found in breach of the procedures.”

Mr Dooley said Ms McDonald undermined the privilege given to TDs for political gain.

Party sources had earlier suggested a move against the Sinn Féin deputy leader was unlikely unless it was a cross-party motion.

The Oireachtas Committee on Procedures and Privileges (CPP) previously ruled that the Sinn Féin TD’s use of Dáil privilege to name six prominent politicians last December was an abuse.

Standing orders

Fianna Fáil had earlier indicated it would discuss a push for a change in standing orders.

The party wants deputies who break Dáil privilege to face a financial penalty through their salaries.

One party source said: “The only reason Mary Lou did what she did was for publicity and a motion of censure would generate that same publicity.

“We are considering it. But a motion of censure is based on the idea that the deputy acted in good faith. In this incidence, there is no evidence of any.”

The Government chief whip Paul Kehoe has already written to the Ceann Comhairle asking that the Committee on Procedures and Privileges consider it.

Ms McDonald has declined to withdraw the comments and called for a further investigation into the allegations.

Ms McDonald’s intervention last December came after a serving civil servant sent the Dáil Public Accounts Committee (PAC) a dossier setting out allegations that former ministers had used Ansbacher accounts to evade tax.

The Revenue Commissioners has informed the PAC that all files drawn up by the civil servant, Gerard Ryan, had been fully examined and followed up.

The CPP ruled last month that Ms McDonald was in breach of Dáil standing orders by making allegations against people who were not members of the House. It wrote to the Sinn Féin TD asking her to withdraw her remarks.