| 6.6°C Dublin

Mary Lou's four-hour Dail protest a 'disgraceful stunt'


Mary Lou McDonald outside the Dail

Mary Lou McDonald outside the Dail

Collins Dublin, Gareth Chaney

Mary Lou McDonald outside the Dail

SINN Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has been accused of trying to divert attention away from her party's handling of sexual abuse after she staged a four-hour sit-in in the Dail.

Ms McDonald, who has been highly damaged by the Mairia Cahill affair, brought Dail business to a halt by refusing to recognise a vote in favour of her suspension.

The Dublin Central TD has been strongly condemned for her behaviour which was described last night as representing a "disgraceful political stunt".

Both Fine Gael and Labour politicians claim Ms McDonald's actions were clearly orchestrated to deflect attention way from the Sinn Fein/IRA sexual abuse scandal.

Ms McDonald has been suspended from the Dail until November 21 and will not be paid for the days she is absent. Her leader, Gerry Adams, launched an extraordinary attack on Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett and said his party no longer has confidence in the Dail chairperson. Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the action by Sinn Fein was unprecedented and was a "diversionary stunt" and represented a clear attempt to detract from the "very uncomfortable day" experienced by the party as a result of the Mairia Cahill debate.

Fine Gael TD for Dublin North Alan Farrell said the party was guilty of a "disgraceful political stunt" and that this will be clear in the eyes of the public.

"The sit-in ensured that the Dail could not debate important pieces of legislation including the social welfare bill which includes the increase in child benefit and the partial restoration of the Christmas bonus," he said.

The farcical scenes unfolded following heated exchanges between Tanaiste Joan Burton and Ms McDonald at Leaders' Questions.

The Sinn Fein politician refused to vacate her seat after being told to leave the house - prompting the Ceann Comhairle to suspend the house pending a vote.

She rejected that her actions were a stunt and said her questions were not answered by Ms Burton.