Belfast Telegraph

Ex-TD's Sinn Fein bid 'considered'

Sinn Fein's national executive is expected to consider tomorrow an application from an ex-Fianna Fail TD to join the party.

President Gerry Adams confirmed the Ard Comhairle would meet on Saturday, but he would not speculate on names up for consideration for party membership.

Chris Andrews formally applied to join the party and is understood to have been in talks with Sinn Fein bosses about running in next summer's local elections.

"The fact is our party is growing and the fact is that there are people who were involved in other parties who have come to join us," Mr Adams said.

"The protocol within the party is that that has to be endorsed by the Ard Comhairle.

"The Ard Comhairle will be meeting on Saturday. I don't want to speculate on any of the names. It wouldn't be fair on the Ard Comhairle and it wouldn't be fair on the people who want to join us."

Mr Andrews resigned from Fianna Fail last year following a social media controversy and clash with party leader Micheal Martin.

It emerged the 49-year-old, whose grandfather Todd Andrews helped found Fianna Fail, set up a phoney Twitter account which he used to criticise Mr Martin and other figures within the party.

He was discovered after Eddy Carroll, husband of senior party figure Kathryn Byrne, used video and photo surveillance to catch him in the act.

Mr Andrews, who served as a TD for Dublin South-East, is hoping to run in the next local elections in the Ringsend area.

He is the nephew of David Andrews, a former Fianna Fail minister who helped negotiate the Good Friday Agreement.

Sinn Fein president Mr Adams, who would not be drawn on whether he believed Mr Andrews would be a suitable candidate, was speaking at the party's think-in in Carlingford, Co Louth.

In what was the first of the special parliamentary party meetings ahead of the return of the Dail, Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty criticised the Government for seeking a 10 billion euro overdraft from the Troika.

The Government's plan is not to use the cash, but to have it as a buffer for when the country exits its bailout at the end of the year.

But Mr Doherty insisted it was a "second bailout" and demanded Finance Minister Michael Noonan reveal the terms and conditions Ireland has signed up to with its debt masters.

"This is a second bailout, it's available as a second bailout to the State, it's been negotiated as a second bailout, it's not free money," Mr Doherty said.

"There will be terms and conditions, there will be things the Government have signed up to, to impose on the Irish people as a result of them accessing this second bailout."

The Finance Minister will thrash out the details of the 10 billion euro deal with the Troika - the International Monetary Fund, European Commission and European Central Bank - after the budget in October.

Elsewhere, Mr Adams criticised the liberal opening hours of the Dail bar after it emerged TDs and senators ran up a tab of nearly 1,500 euro on the night of a late debate on abortion legislation.

He said it was clear TDs were intoxicated during the overnight session, which has since been dubbed "lapgate", despite them having to vote on the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Bill.

"It's almost as if you're in a time-capsule - the Dail 20 or 30 years ago, it reflects Irish society 20 or 30 years ago when there were slightly different cultural mores," Mr Adams said.

He repeated calls for the same licensing laws to be applied to the Dail bar as in other pubs across the country.

Sinn Fein vice-president Mary Lou McDonald said she was "shocked" by the revelations that legislatures downed 313 alcoholic drinks in the early hours of July 12, when the bar was open until 5.30am.

She said politicians should abide by the same rules as the working public - one of which is to remain sober at work.

There was outrage following the night in question when Fine Gael TD Tom Barry pulled party colleague Aine Collins onto his lap in the Dail chamber - an incident she later described as offensive.

Ms McDonald said it was clear a "substantial" amount of alcohol had been drunk.

"I don't care what area you work in or what your job is, you come to work sober and while you're at your desk and at work, you remain sober," she said.

"That's the standard for people of every other walk of life and it's absolutely no different for us as politicians."

Meanwhile, in her final remarks to the Sinn Fein think-in, Ms McDonald said the party would have a "challenging" Dail session ahead.

She said the party would challenge the Government with alternatives for October's budget to prevent it from "pick-pocketing" low-income families.

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