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Mary Lou McDonald’s husband sues Shane Ross following row over biography

The action was filed yesterday against Mr Ross and Atlantic Books, publishers of the ‘Mary Lou McDonald: A Republican Riddle’

Shane Ross's interview with RTÉ about his biography 'Mary Lou: A Republican Riddle' has yet to air. Picture by Mark Condren


The husband of Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has issued legal proceedings against former Cabinet minister Shane Ross and a book publishing company.

The action was filed yesterday by Martin Lanigan against Mr Ross and Atlantic Books, publishers of the ‘Mary Lou McDonald: A Republican Riddle’.

The biography, written by Mr Ross, was published last year.

The case was expected after it emerged last October that lawyers for Mr Lanigan had sent a letter to Mr Ross threatening to sue for defamation.

It is understood the case is related to a chapter in the book about the purchase and renovation of Mr Lanigan and Ms McDonald’s family home in Cabra, Dublin.

Mr Ross could not be reached for comment this morning.

He has previously said he was “surprised" to receive the legal letter and that he would defend any proceedings.

Mr Ross said last October there was "no allegation in the book of impropriety", but that the book asked "reasonable questions, which should be answered".

Asked to comment on the threatened legal action at the time, Ms McDonald said every citizen had a right to “defend and vindicate their good name”.

"Obviously, our system relies on two things - freedom of expression, freedom of the press and also the right of every citizen to defend and vindicate their good name,” she said.

"And my husband is a private citizen and I think those rights for private citizens are especially important."

The contents of the chapter sparked controversy when the book was published.

Mr Ross said he had corresponded with Mr Lanigan when writing the biography and asked for an interview.

He said he also contacted Ms McDonald’s office seeking to put questions to her.

Mr Ross said he received no response to either request.

Mr Lanigan has retained the services of McCartan & Burke Solicitors.

The same law firm is representing Ms McDonald in a defamation action she is taking against RTÉ.

Her case is in relation to a radio interview broadcast in February last year in which a journalist made a reference to Sinn Féin and the IRA’s historic handling of abuse allegations.

In 2020, Ms McDonald received an apology and an undisclosed financial settlement from former Fianna Fáil TD Declan Breathnach in the High Court as part of the settlement of defamation proceedings.

The Sinn Féin leader sued the former Louth TD over comments on Twitter in October 2018 in which she alleged he portrayed her as condoning the murders of members of An Garda Síochána.

Her predecessor as Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, is currently involved in defamation proceedings against the BBC over its reporting on the murder of former Sinn Féin official Denis Donaldson, who worked for decades as a British spy.

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