Mary Lou McDonald not ‘seeking confrontation’ over suspension

Sinn Féin’s Mary Lou McDonald insisted she was not "seeking confrontation" as another Dáil showdown loomed over her suspension.

She said she was turning up at Leinster House as usual today despite Ceann Comhairle Sean Barrett banning her from the chamber until tomorrow.

However, if Leinster House ushers bar her entry to the chamber, Ms McDonald will not try to get past them, according to a Sinn Féin spokesperson.

“She is not seeking a confrontation with the ushers,” the spokesperson said.

A majority of TDs voted to back the Ceann Comhairle’s three-day suspension of the Sinn Féin deputy leader last Thursday but she refused to leave and staged a four-hour sit-in.

Sinn Féin is considering whether to table a motion of no-confidence in the Ceann Comhairle over the incident and what they see as other unfair treatment by him against the party.

The standoff erupted after Ms McDonald refused to sit down after accusing Tánaiste Joan Burton of not answering her questions on water charging during leaders’ questions on Thursday, with the subsequent sit-in leading to abandonment of Dáil proceedings.

The Ceann Comhairle has stressed he acts impartially.

Opponents accused Ms McDonald of conducting a “stunt” intended to deflect attention away from the sex abuse cover-up allegations which have hit Sinn Féin in recent weeks following accusations of the operation of IRA kangaroo courts by rape victim Maíria Cahill.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar was dismissive of the way Ms McDonald conducted herself.

“What happened last week was that very important legislation was held up. Joan Burton had legislation to increase child benefit and restore the Christmas bonus. I had legislation to reduce the stamp duty on health insurance and that has at least been kicked back now until next week. So I really don’t know what’s achieved by any of this kind of playacting,” Mr Varadkar said.


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