Belfast Telegraph

McDonald stands by tax row dossier

Mary Lou McDonald has insisted the source of allegations that several former government minsters were involved in tax evasion through offshore accounts remains "reputable and credible".

The Sinn Fein deputy leader was found by an Oireachtas watchdog to have abused parliamentary privilege by naming the high-profile political figures at the centre of the claims in the Dail last year.

But Ms McDonald has hit back at the Committee on Procedure and Privileges with a refusal to withdraw her remarks.

"The source of these allegations is a briefing dossier prepared by authorised officers who are both reputable and credible," she said.

"I set out for the Committee on Procedure and Privileges in very clear terms my reasons for exercising my Dail privilege, which was in good faith and the public interest.

"However, I have received from them only dismissive responses."

Ms McDonald said she has also written to Taoiseach Enda Kenny about the "very serious allegations", calling on him to examine them fully.

"It is inconceivable that the Taoiseach and the Government have not moved to institute an investigation and serve the interests of the Irish people fully," she added.

"I exercised my constitutional right of privilege in good faith and in the matter of public interest."

The Committee on Procedures and Privileges ruled yesterday that her comments last December were "in the nature of being defamatory" and that she should not have named the political figures.

Five former ministers have denied they held offshore accounts linked to the Cayman Islands.

Four complained to the Committee after Ms McDonald named them in the Dail, reading from a civil servant's report.

The Ansbacher account scandal involved a clandestine bank, which was unauthorised to operate in Ireland and allegedly used by senior public figures to evade tax.

Revenue has said it carefully examined a number of cases with a view to prosecution but a 10-year rule in the legislation barred the organisation from taking cases more than a decade old.


From Belfast Telegraph