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23rd Feb 2022

“You are pathetic” – Taoiseach and Mary Lou McDonald engage in bitter Dáil row

Stephen Porzio

Fiery scenes in Dáil Éireann.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald became embroiled in a bitter row which began over the topic of housing but ended with the two accusing the others’ parties of corruption.

Leaders’ Questions began on Wednesday with McDonald questioning the Taoiseach over a news story that appeared in the Irish Sun.

The report states that O’Devaney Gardens site developer Bartra warned Housing Minister Daragh O’Brien that it would sell 500 homes to a cuckoo fund if the Government did not buy them all for a set price believed to be close to €400,000 per apartment.

“The developer is effectively trying to blackmail the taxpayer and is using the powerful presence of cuckoo funds as leverage,” McDonald told the Taoiseach.

“This wouldn’t be happening if Government had provided Dublin City Council with the financial support needed to develop these homes back in 2018.

“This proposal would have seen the delivery of 800 homes that ordinary people could actually afford to rent or buy.

“That’s what we in Sinn Féin and others called for and had Government listened to us, O’Devaney Gardens would be in an advanced stage of construction with families ready to move in next year.”

She added that “the fiasco at O’Devaney Gardens is a mess of the Government’s own making”.

“You were warned that sidelining the local authority and gifting public lands to private developers was a really bad idea,” she added.

“Do you now accept those facts, Taoiseach?”

In response, the Taoiseach reiterated that housing is the single most urgent and important social issue facing Ireland currently, before accusing Sinn Féin of always having a reason to say projects cannot go ahead.

“O’Devaney Gardens would have been built a long time ago if it wasn’t for people playing politics with it,” he said.

“It’s either the Sinn Féin way or the highway. We’ll either build houses our way or we’ll never build houses.”

Responding to the Taoiseach, McDonald said:

“If ever there was a salutary tale and lesson of Fianna Fáil in Government, Fianna Fáil – the party of the Galway tent and brown envelopes and a cozy relationship with developers – it is O’Devaney Gardens.

“The reason why this has dragged on and on is because your buddies, who had a public private partnership arrangment with the State at the time, went bust and let the entire community down.

“I could go on and on, Ceann Comhairle. I don’t have the scope to recount the corruption, the corrupted nature of your relationship with the people that I refer to.”

Replying, the Taoiseach said Sinn Féin were “the last party to talk to anybody about corruption”.

“Your party corrupted public life in this Republic for well on 40 years to a far greater degree than any other party in this country,” he told McDonald.

“You corrupted the moral code of our country and our society by the murder and mayhem that you perpetrated and that you still endorse, Deputy. You still endorse it.

“You still support them, the narrative of murder and mayhem and so forth.

“You also support the undermining of women, who are raped by IRA volunteers and your party covered it up.”

As the Taoiseach spoke, McDonald replied: “Ansbacher, Galway,” before adding: “You are pathetic.”

The row died down with the Ceann Comhairle asking:

“Can we just restore some order, please?”

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