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Mary Lou: I'm on the bold step in the naughty corner

The Sinn Féin deputy leader is suspended from the Dáil today.

Mary Lou McDonald
Mary Lou McDonald
Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

Updated 3.15pm 

MARY LOU MCDonald has said that Sinn Féin will seek a meeting with the Ceann Comhairle in attempt to resolve an ongoing dispute over allegations that he is biased against them.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader was speaking in the wake of her suspension from the Dáil which continues today. Earlier, she confirmed she would not force her way into the chamber today and would wait until her suspension is lifted tomorrow.

“I’m on the bold step in the naughty corner and I’m barred from the chamber today,” she told reporters at Leinster House this afternoon.

She said that while she has no confidence in Seán Barrett, the party will not immediately table a motion of no confidence but Sinn Féin says it remains “a live option”.

“I’ve said before and I will say again that I personally have no confidence in the Ceann Comhairle. I don’t believe that he carries out his duties in a way that is fair and impartial and seen to be fair and impartial.”

McDonald was suspended from the house last Thursday following a row with the Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett during Leaders’ Questions.

However McDonald refused to leave the house after TDs voted to eject her and staged a four-hour sit-in with the Ceann Comhairle refusing to resume Dáil business until she left the chamber.

The four-hour stand-off resulted in Dáil business being suspended for the day until the house was formally adjourned for the week.

In a statement last week Barrett said the stand-off was “deeply regrettable, especially when important business is being dealt with by the Dáil”. However, he said he had “no other option open” to him other than adjourning.

McDonald said that a meeting with the Ceann Comhairle would involve seeking a “constructive discussion with him”.

She said: “As our first port of call the most constructive thing to do is seek a meeting with the Ceann Comhairle and to set out the issues that we have and to see if there might be some resolution.”

Asked under what circumstances she would regain confidence in Barrett, McDonald said this would involve him being amenable to resolving issues that Sinn Féin has with him.

“None of us have an issue with rules applying in the house, and those rules applying to us – that’s not an issue at all. But there has to be absolute scrupulous even handedness in the application of this rules,” she said.

dail-2-2 The Dáil last Thursday Source: Oireachtas TV

Sinn Féin’s whip Aengus Ó Snodaigh said that rather than leave the house suspended for four hours last week, Barrett should have adjourned the sitting for the day after 15 minutes.

“Most people expected early-on that the Ceann Comhairle would come in at some stage and suspend for the day and allow people to go about other business that they had but he was being petulant in the way he approached it last Thursday,” the Dublin South-Central deputy said.

Earlier, McDonald told reporters that ushers, whose job it is to keep order in Leinster House, would attempt to stop her if she tried to enter the Dáil and she did not want to get them into trouble.

“They’re good people and they do what is at times a difficult job,” she said.

- additional reporting from Órla Ryan 

First published on Monday, 17 November 2014. 

Sit-in:  Dáil adjourned until Tuesday after Mary Lou stages four-hour sit-in

Analysis: Why it looks like Sinn Féin’s Dáil sit-in was nothing more than a political stunt

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Hugh O'Connell

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