Credit: Gript

About “Mary Lou’s posh gaff”

There are several ways to interpret the apparent decision by Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald’s husband, Martin Lanigan, to issue legal threats regarding a recently published book by Shane Ross. 

In the book, Ross devotes an entire chapter to how they managed to acquire a site for their house on the Navan Road and to subsequently build a rather impressive home there. The story about the “luxurious 11 room detached villa” was not even original as Sam Smyth had broached the subject for a piece published by the Irish Mail on Sunday in 2015.

I do recall it because it was at a time when I myself was working for Sinn Féin in Leinster House and was one of those who, including Mary Lou, were apparently expected to hand over everything we earned above the national industrial wage.

I and a small number of people had refused for years to do so and I think the practise ended as a consequence of that and the fact that at least one TD was revealed not to have been complying with the requirement. And properly so, because anyone who believes that a TD can survive on whatever the average industrial wage is, clearly has no idea of what a demanding job it is. Perhaps that is not a popular thing to say, but it happens to be true.

Nor ought anyone who is paid by the taxpayer – as I and every other person working for Sinn Féin in Leinster House and Stormont were – be expected to hand over, under threat of dismissal, any part of their wages to a third entity. Apart from that, all such crude pseudo egalitarian schemes only lead to abuse and hypocrisy.

The former socialist states were notorious for the existence of a wealthy nomenklatura that was able to afford multiple homes and extravagant lifestyles while putatively existing on the same wage as the drivers of their Zil limousines. Irish republicans who visited Cuba as regime guests were astounded by the Roman Emperoreaque opulence enjoyed by the Castro gang in the midst of grinding poverty.

The same applied in Sinn Féin where not only were certain people given dispensation not to pay the vig, but where a wealthy elite attached to the movement had managed to acquire substantial properties and who in some cases were not particularly observant of labour legislation regarding wages and trade union representation.

That’s neither here nor there other than as it touches upon Mary Lou’s situation. Personally, I could not care less what type of house she lives in. As far as I can see, herself and Martin Lanigan would have had the means to get a mortgage and to build a house for themselves. Good luck to them.

There is, however, another way to look at this. Sinn Féin – while not actually socialist in economic terms as they do not believe in state ownership of even utilities such as gas and electricity – do feed upon a populist resentment of people who appear to be getting on better than others, in material terms at least.

So when you are effectively on the same side of the fence as seriously wealthy people like the Woke billionaires who fund the liberal left, and when you do not even support raising corporation taxes on them; implying that someone who rents out a second home, or might have a mostly vacant holiday home (a touchy subject that among the Shinners) or who is engaged in small business is somehow responsible for the fact that you do not have the same stuff, then you are peddling petty resentment, not societal change.

Just the same as those who focus on Mary Lou’s family home are focusing on trivialities rather than what politics ought to be about. Not least perhaps for the reason that any lingering animus against the Shinners amongst the Dublin liberal bourgeoisie is social and cultural – just as it was for a long time against Fianna Fáil – rather than to do with the substance of how Ireland ought to be run. Upon which they mostly all agree, as the seminal political events of the past decade and more here have proven.

If the best line of attack they have against Mary Lou is that she has a nice gaff, they may leave the keys to Government buildings in Parnell Square…

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