Former government minister Des O’Malley has said he would sue Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald if she made allegations about him having an offshore Ansbacher account outside the Dáil chamber.
The founder of the Progressive Democrats has also said he has been supplied with a full list of 190 Ansbacher account holders and his name does not appear alongside others.
The Irish Examiner has obtained undisclosed letters sent to Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett and formal complaints lodged about Ms McDonald’s comments, including correspondence from Mr O’Malley.
This week, Ms McDonald was found to have breached Oireachtas rules when she used Dáil privilege in December to identify several former senior politicians who were named in a whistleblower’s dossier about Ansbacher account holders.
Mr O’Malley, one of those named, told Mr Barrett by letter on January 30 that he wanted the allegations withdrawn and for Ms McDonald to apologise.
“This allegation is totally untrue and is very damaging,” he wrote. “I have been supplied with a list of Ansbacher account holders which I am informed is a complete list. My name does not appear on this list of 190 people.”
Mr O’Malley concedes that there could be more than 190 account holders but that he never held a Guinness and Mahon bank account for the purpose of evading tax.
“If this allegation were made outside the privilege of the house, I would sue the deputy concerned,” Mr O’Malley wrote. “I would ask you [Mr Barrett], in view of your position, to seek the withdrawal of this allegation, and an apology for the fact that it was made, as it constitutes an accusation of a criminal offence.”
Former European commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has also lodged a formal complaint with the chairman of the Dáil.
In her letter to Mr Barrett, the former justice minister said: “As a retired member of the house I had no right of reply to protect my good name. I now wish to lodge a formal complaint with you about this matter.”
It is understood the Oireachtas Committee on Procedure and Privileges (CPP) is writing to Ms McDonald to ask her to retract her remarks or make an apology.
The letters to Mr Barrett emerge after the Irish Examiner yesterday revealed how senior gardaí have demanded that “damaging allegations” against members in Dáil, specifically superintendents, are stopped.
Independent TD Mick Wallace, who has regularly used Dáil privilege to highlight abuses by the force, has vigorously defended having immunity to highlight important allegations about gardaí.
Association of Garda Superintendents general secretary Patrick McCabe asked Mr Barrett him to ensure no further allegations are put in the public arena by TDs “for disgruntled or disaffected citizens which are unverified or agenda-driven”.
Inspector Liam Connolly has also written to Mr Barrett asking that his name be withdrawn from the Dáil record, saying Mr Wallace’s claims he had harassed a bar owner in Kilkenny were false and had had a serious impact on his reputation as a garda and on his family. “I believe that this was a gross misuse of Dáil privilege and a breach of the conventions of the house,” he wrote.
The CPP is looking at the Dail’s standing orders to see if rules governing the use of privilege can be tightened.
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