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Thursday 8 December 2016

Mary Lou's Grafton Street mystery man steals SF's limelight

Mary Lou McDonald addresses the person, who identified himself as a small businessman,
on Grafton Street (Tom Burke)
Mary Lou McDonald addresses the person, who identified himself as a small businessman, on Grafton Street (Tom Burke)
The mystery man who challenged Mary Lou McDonald (Tom Burke)

There was one question on the lips of the reporters at Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald's press conference: Just who was the mystery man that hijacked the whole thing?

It all started in the usual way. Ms McDonald was on Grafton Street outlining how her party would scrap water charges and she was asked about Gerry Adams' car crash RTE interview.

"Anybody can fumble a figure," was her take on Mr Adams' apparent difficulty outlining his party's plans for extra tax on those paid more than €100,000.

It was then that the mystery man made his move.

"You're going to kill pensions for middle-income people," he claimed.

"No we won't," Ms McDonald replied.

"Have you seen the figures or can your leader do the maths?" he asked.

Apolitical

She asked who he was and he replied: "A concerned citizen."

"I'm apolitical but I won't be voting for Sinn Fein," he added.

"That's fine. That's your prerogative," Ms McDonald said.

He accused the Dublin Central candidate of wanting to "punish" people "who work hard and try and make a life for themselves".

"No I don't," she replied.

"You certainly do. Where the State loses more when someone is made unemployed than the person loses there's something wrong there. When you pay 59pc tax?" the man countered.

Ms McDonald replied: "What I am saying to you is you have to look at the proposals in the round. I understand that not all of our proposals will be universally popular. It's not universally popular to say that you want a third tax band."

It was then that she had a 'figure fumble' herself, saying there would be an "additional seven euro in every cent over the hundred grand for people who earn that". Of course, she meant an additional 7c on every euro.

"Our position is people with deeper pockets, people who have a greater ability to pay, yes, have to pay a bit more and I'm sorry if that upsets you but I'm being honest and I'm telling you that that is the lie of the land.

"If other political parties were honest they would tell you the same thing."

The man said: "The best way for this country is to give young people opportunities."

"Absolutely," Ms McDonald said. It was perhaps the only thing they agreed on but it didn't last long.

The man said he didn't support any political party.

"Really?" Ms McDonald asked. "Yeah, really," he replied.

He said he "probably will be voting Fine Gael" because of their policy on USC.

"They're abolishing it," Ms McDonald said, adding: "It's €4bn off the balance sheet so good luck when you go to your local hospital."

Hospitals

"You want to talk about the hospitals? You're talking about someone who's had personal experience and I can't see Sinn Fein sorting that out," the man replied.

He declined to give his name when asked by reporters, saying, "I've no interest in talking", but said he runs a small business.

"Sinn Fein annoy me by the way they go around and I just felt so incensed about it," he said on his intervention and walked off down Grafton Street.

Ms McDonald returned to her press conference.

"We had a lively exchange there with a citizen," she said wryly.

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