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Frances Fitzgerald was speaking on tonight’s Six One news Mary Lou McDonald has been suspended from the Dáil until 19 November Mary Lou McDonald repeatedly questioned the Tánaiste despite warnings Sean Barrett named Deputy McDonald as being out of order and the house voted to suspend her
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said the Dáil sit-in by Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald, was a stunt designed to draw attention away from allegations of a cover up of sex abuse by republicans.
Earlier, Ceann Comhairle Seán Barrett adjourned the Dáil until 2pm next Tuesday after a sit-in by the Sinn Féin deputy.
Ms McDonald refused to leave the chamber despite a vote suspending her.
Seán Barrett said he regretted having to do this but had no option.
This evening Oireachtas Press officer Verona Ní Bhroin clarified that Mary Lou McDonald has been suspended until the 9 November.
She had repeatedly questioned Tánaiste and Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton despite warnings from the Ceann Comhairle.
During Leaders’ Questions, Ms McDonald persisted in asking the Tánaiste about water charges after the Ceann Comhairle asked her to resume her seat or leave the house.
She asked the Tánaiste if she would ensure that water charges were not deducted from people’s social welfare allowances and that attachment orders were not used against those who had not paid.
The Ceann Comhairle then named her as being out of order and the house voted to suspend the Dublin Central deputy.
But she refused to leave the chamber despite being asked to by the Captain of the Guard in Leinster House.
Ms McDonald sat in her usual seat in the chamber and was joined by six of her party colleagues, including Gerry Adams.
There were also five Fine Gael TDs in the chamber as well as Socialist Party TD Joe Higgins and Independent Finian McGrath.
The Dáil had been be set to debate the Social Welfare Bill this afternoon.
Minister Fitzgerald told RTÉ’s Six One news, that the disruption was unprecedented and claims it was to detract from the “very uncomfortable day” Sinn Féin had in the Dáil yesterday.
The minister said that Ms McDonald asked a question about water chages knowing that the details would be dealt with next week.
McDonald defends her actions
Ms McDonald has defended her decision to stage a sit-in in the Dáil today.
Accompanied by party colleagues on the Leinster House plinth after the Dáil was adjourned, Ms McDonald said that she is an elected representative and she asked two straightforward questions to the Tánaiste Joan Burton during Leaders Questions that were not answered.
She said that it is a regular feature of Leaders’ Questions that questions from the Opposition are not answered and the Government have been “aided and abetted by the Ceann Comhairle”.
She said that this was “deplorable” and today took a decision to take a stand on the issue.
She denied that the move was an attempt to distract from the Máiría Cahill issue and pointed to the way the Ceann Comhairle intervened when she made her Budget Day speech.
She said, “We are very unhappy with the demenour of the Ceann Comhairle” and added that there is a “lack of impartiality and fairness”
Ms McDonald said: “I defend my right to as a public representative to ask questions.”
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams said, “I have no confidence in the Ceann Comhairle” and indicated that the party would discuss where to go from here.
He did not rule out the possibility of the party tabling a confidence motion in the Ceann Comhairle.
When asked about recent comments made on social media by a senior member of the Sinn Féin publicity team against a journalist from the Irish Independent, Mr Adams agreed with the comments that the reporter was “an idiot.”
Asked why he agreed, he said “Yes” because of “some of the stuff he has published.”