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

It’s the second time in a month the Sinn Féin TD has been suspended from the chamber.

Updated 6.10pm 

THE DÁIL HAS been adjourned until Tuesday after Mary Lou McDonald staged a sit-in lasting nearly four hours.

The Sinn Féin Deputy was suspended from the Dáil following a row at Leaders’ Questions today – but she refused to leave the chamber.

The stand-off between McDonald and Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett led to business being suspended indefinitely until Barrett, who refused to return to the chamber until McDonald left, adjourned the house until next Tuesday at 2pm.

McDonald and her Sinn Féin colleagues remained in the chamber for the entire 3 hours and 58 minutes while the Dáil was suspended.

An Oireachtas spokesperson confirmed that McDonald will be suspended from the Dáil until next Wednesday, 19 November.

dail 2

Outside Leinster House after the sit-in, McDonald and party leader Gerry Adams expressed no confidence in Barrett but said they had not yet decided whether to table a motion of no confidence.

McDonald insisted the sit-in was “absolutely not” pre-planned in the wake of yesterday’s Dáil debate on abuse in the republican movement.

“It’s nothing of the sort,” she insisted.

‘Deeply regrettable’

The row developed in the Dáil chamber around lunchtime after McDonald refused to comply with a Dáil vote to suspend her and the Ceann Comhairle refused to return to the house until she left.

In a statement about his decision this afternoon, 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 an hour early.

I cannot resume the business of the House until this sit-in is stopped. It must be clearly understood that it is not my decision that Deputy McDonald leave the House but it is a decision that was taken by the majority by way of vote.
If this action continues beyond 4.30pm and for the purpose of avoiding further reputational damage to the Institution, I will have no option but to formally adjourn the sitting until next Tuesday at 2pm. Finally, I wish to say that I regret very much having to take this route but there is no other option open to me.

On Facebook, McDonald gave no indication that she was prepared to leave the house, effectively staging a sit-in:

And her efforts were alluded to by Barrett in his statement. He confirmed that the Captain of the Guard’s attempts to remove the Deputy were “unsuccessful”.

A number of TDs sat with McDonald over the four hours and party leader Gerry Adams was spotted next to her at the very end at 4.30pm today.

No Dáil until Tuesday

The Ceann Comhairle has now confirmed that the Dáil will remain suspended until Tuesday.

After being suspended for over an hour this lunchtime Government TDs withdrew from the house just before 2pm and were followed by Fianna Fáil deputies but Sinn Féin remained in the chamber.

After government TDs withdrew, Tánaiste Joan Burton returned to collect her documents and got into a tense row with remaining Sinn Féin deputies.

After they criticised her for failing to answer questions, she claimed Sinn Féin had failed to answer questions raised during yesterday’s debate on abuse in the republican movement.

Water charges

The row started during Leaders’ Questions when the Sinn Féin deputy leader was angered by what she believed was Burton’s failure to answer her questions about water charges, specifically whether unpaid bills could be deducted from wages or social welfare.

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Having failed to resume her seat, the Ceann Comhairle ordered her to leave the chamber but McDonald refused and a vote was called.


Source: Hugh O'Connell/YouTube

The government’s majority ensured that McDonald was voted out of the House but she then refused to leave the chamber resulting in the Dáil’s suspension.

Ministers believe McDonald has orchestrated the whole event:

In a statement, Fine Gael TD Jerry Buttimer said: ”As a member of Dáil Eireann, I take genuine offence that Sinn Féin would use our Parliament as a prop to deflect attention from the negative media coverage over Sinn Féin’s treatment of sexual abuse victims.”

Last month McDonald was suspended from the chamber after getting into a row with Barrett during the debate on the Budget announcement.

On that occasion she left the house without any protest.

With reporting from Sinéad O’Carroll 

Last month: Mary Lou McDonald has been turfed out of the Dáil…

About the author:

Hugh O'Connell

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