*Clare TD, Violet Anne Wynne. Photograph: Natasha Barton

CLARE TD, Violet-Anne Wynne (IND) has admitted she has not paid back the entirety of a loan to Sinn Féin after the political party aided her to repay rent debts.

Deputy Wynne resigned from Sinn Féin in February after she said had been “gaslighted”, “isolated” and subjected to “psychological warfare” within the party.

It has emerged that Sinn Féin gave a commercial loan of €12,126 to Violet-Anne after it emerged following her election to Dáil Éireann in February 2020 she had rent debts with Rural Resettlement Ireland of the same value built up over a four year period.

The Clare Champion had previously reported in May 2020 that Newcastle West based solicitor, John Lynch transferred a payment for the rent arrears of €12,116 to Rural Resettlement Ireland (RRI) solicitor Michael Lynch.

Shane Ross’ new book, Mary Lou McDonald – A Republican Riddle includes an interview with the Clare TD where she revealed that Sinn Féin lent her money for unpaid rent in May 2020. An agreement had been reached that Deputy Wynne would make monthly repayments of €1,000 to Sinn Féin.

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said the loan was made to Ms Wynne in line with Standards in Public Office (Sipo) regulations and insisted it “must be paid back in full”. The spokesperson added, “Sinn Féin is not in the business of providing loans. In this exceptional case a loan was provided to Violet-Anne Wynne in line with the Standards in Public Office (Sipo) criteria. In line with that criteria, the loan was made on a commercial basis and must be paid back in full.” The party said Sipo must be informed if a loan is defaulted on and said it is accounted for in their annual accounts under the heading ‘Debtors’. The spokesperson said Ms McDonald has never received any loans from the party.

Speaking to The Clare Echo, Deputy Wynne admitted that she has missed repayments on the loan to Sinn Féin. “There was an arrangement organised at the time and that was that I was to pay €1000 per month which I managed for several months but then I missed a payment or two, I think the following year because of COVID I wasn’t able to attend Leinster House, Sinn Féin had given a strict instruction that unless you were speaking you weren’t to attend, I ended up then having to pay back €18,000 to Leinster House as well, it fell to the wayside in being able to pay back Leinster House”.

She said she was “unsure” how much money she currently owed to Sinn Féin. “Sinn Féin have not contacted me in regards any business whatsoever since I resigned in February”.

During her interview for the book, Violet-Anne said Mary Lou used feminism as a façade. Explaining her comments, Deputy Wynne told The Clare Echo, “Her warmth would have gone part and parcel with the feminist façade that I now see it as, maybe the compassionate side of her as well, it wouldn’t have been something that I experienced in any way. The meeting that I did have with her (December 2020 to raise concerns and discuss the debt), she paid attention to what I was saying but as for actually following on or having any follow up actions or even correspondence in relation to the things I had raised with her in that meeting, it was just zero”.

In June of this year, the Kilrush woman said she, her partner and six children were homeless after receiving a notice to quit their dwellings. She confirmed she has yet to secure permanent accommodation and is currently living with family members. “I understand people who have got the notice to quit, I’ve been there and I’ve lived in the anxiety, thankfully I’ve had a family member who I have been able to go to and it really makes me think everyday of those who don’t have the family or the space, there’s six children so it’s overcrowded where we are but at the same time it’s not like a three or two bedroom squashed situation, most days around dinner time, school work and bed time is when I’m really thinking of those who are worse off than ourselves”.

She added, “when the holiday homes became very scarce and not only that they were becoming very expensive because demand was so high, around the end of July that’s when we had to make the decision to move back with family members and we’ve been there ever since”.

With TDs on salaries above €96,000 many constituents have not been sympathetic with Deputy Wynne’s struggle to secure housing. “I was one of the people that was very critical of TD’s wages. In my experience because I’m only two and a half years elected, I am obviously better off and my family is better off but as for being able to secure housing it hasn’t become a reality for us, I think there are much worse people out there than us that can’t even get onto the property ladder but even still I would be one of them at the moment because of credit history and work history, going from the dole to the Dáil I just don’t have that kind of banking history to be able to get a mortgage for my family at this point in time.

“There’s many more in this situation and then you look at the rental market there’s very little properties available, what’s happening because demand is so high, you can see the houses are becoming even more expensive or people are offering higher amounts than what it is advertised, it is a very difficult process for anyone to be in coming into the winter especially”.

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