MacSharry challenges ‘wildcat’ McDonald to make claims ‘out on the street’

TD invited to repeat claims made under Dáil privilege outside the Oireachtas

IFA general secretary Pat Smith, book editor Matt Dempsey, Ray MacSharry and IFA president Eddie Downey at the book launch. Photograph: Finbarr O’Rourke

IFA general secretary Pat Smith, book editor Matt Dempsey, Ray MacSharry and IFA president Eddie Downey at the book launch. Photograph: Finbarr O’Rourke

 

Former EU commissioner Ray MacSharry has challenged Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald to come “out on the street” and repeat allegations she made under Dáil privilege that he and others had links to offshore Ansbacher accounts.

Speaking to The Irish Times at the launch of The Path to Power – an official history of the Irish Farmers’ Association (IFA), Mr MacSharry also stood over his comments that Ms McDonald was a “wildcat” out to sully his good name.

The Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP), the body which sets Dáil rules, found Ms McDonald abused the privilege given to deputies but the Dublin Central TD has said she will not withdraw her statements.

Mr MacSharry, who is taking legal action over the claims, and other politicians named by Ms McDonald, categorically deny the claims and asked that she withdraw her Dáil statements.

“I’ll take the opportunity, notwithstanding legal action that is under way, to ask her to come out of the Dáil, come outside to talk to you [the media] and make the same accusations and then we’ll see where it goes from there.

“If she is so much in the public interest, let her out on the street and say what she’s saying and see how far she can stand over it.

He said it is “not only I” who holds to his “wildcat” comment, adding: “The CPP in the Dáil have said that Deputy McDonald abused the privilege of the House that deputies have. And that is a serious matter.

“I do think that any deputy of the House has to respect what an all-party committee of the House decides and let me repeat again: they have decided that she abused her privileges and what she was saying was defamatory.

“I agree fully with Dáil privilege for deputies, completely. But when it is abused for political purposes, then it is wrong, and it is more than wrong in this instance where they were legally advised in the Public Accounts Committee – Mr [John] McGuinness and his team, including Deputy McDonald – that they could not and should not use names because there is no evidence to suggest whatsoever that any of these people had anything to do with what was being said in that report.”

Mr MacSharry praised the work carried out by the IFA and said it was one of the leading farming organisations in Europe.

IFA president Eddie Downey said the book “recounts the proud and immense record of delivery of our great association” and provides a “strong sense of the commitment and determination of farmers to work together in unity for farm families”.