'Farcical' | 

Mary Lou McDonald slams Donohoe’s 'cock and bull story' as Varadkar makes 'your friend' Dowdall jibe

“An exercise in cover-up and concealment” – McDonald told the Dáil

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Gareth Chaney

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: PA© PA

Senan MolonyIndependent.ie

Businessman Michael Stone’s statement today means Paschal Donohoe failed not once, but twice, to declare financial donations from a wealthy backer in back-to-back elections, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has told the Dáil.

“A theme of this controversy is the minister’s ever-changing story,” said. “It has been an exercise in cover-up and concealment.”

It was a farcical story that the minister asked the Dáil and the public to believe, she said, and nobody was buying it, she said.

The idea that the donations slipped through the net and from memory was not credible, she asserted.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: PA© PA

To continue the cover-up, Michael Stone falls on his sword, she said, using Dáil privilege, going on to accuse Paschal Donohoe of fabricating a cock-and-bull story to explain the donations.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar countered that people could believe Paschal Donohoe or not after he had made a statement later in the Dáil and answered questions.

He added: “I believe him.”

There were spending limits, but they had not been breached, even inadvertently, by Paschal Donohoe, either in 2016 or 2020, he said.

However Paschal Donohoe or his agent had failed to account for spending, he said, in both 2016 and 2020 elections. Mr Donohoe was now amending his 2020 declaration, as he already had his 2016 statement, as was provided for in law, he said.

Sinn Féin in 2020 had three times filed its returns on spending, relating to a €7,000 payment to a British polling company, he said.

Mr Varadkar said Ms McDonald had received a personal donation of €1,000 from “your friend,” the “gangland criminal and Navan Road torturer” Jonathan Dowdall, he said, calling on her to amend her own statement.

Ms McDonald said the spin amounted to the same “cock-and-bull story” which the Taoiseach’s colleague had “fabricated after the fact.”

The Taoiseach said the Sinn Fein leader had “a brass neck” because of her own party’s travails and her personal Dowdall donation.

Mr Varadkar attacked the “snide” references to the Government contracts Mr Stone’s company had received from the State.

“You know as well as I do that Government ministers have no role in awarding contracts,” Mr Varadkar said.

Labour Party leader Ivana Bacik said it appeared to be a case of “funny money and dodgy donations,” but she would wait to hear what the minister had to say.


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