Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein sit-in at Dail blasted as 'diversionary stunt'

By Brian Hutton

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has been accused of trying to divert attention away from her party's links to sex abuse after she staged a four hour sit-in in the Dail.

Ms McDonald brought the Irish parliament to a standstill by refusing to recognise a vote in favour of her suspension.

The TD has been condemned for her behaviour which was described last night as representing a "disgraceful political stunt".

Fine Gael and Labour claimed Ms McDonald's actions were designed to deflect attention way from Sinn Fein's treatment of sexual abuse victims. Ms McDonald had been questioning Tanaiste Joan Burton on whether welfare payments would be deducted from those who did not pay controversial water charges.

When she refused to take her seat, insisting the question had not been answered, the speaker ruled her out of order. A vote was passed to suspend her, and she was asked to leave, but refused.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the sit-in by Sinn Fein TDs was a "diversionary stunt" to detract from the "very uncomfortable day" as a result of the Mairia Cahill debate.

Ms McDonald has been suspended until November 21.

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