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'insensitive' Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley apologises for tweet about deaths of British soldiers in Ireland

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Chairman Brian Stanley

Chairman Brian Stanley

Chairman Brian Stanley

A senior Sinn Féin TD has apologised after posting a controversial tweet about the deaths of British soldiers in Ireland.

Brian Stanley, who chairs the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, posted to his 3,700 followers: “kilmicheal (sic) (1920) and narrow water (1979) the 2 IRA operations that taught the elite of (the) British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners.”

Kilmichael in Co Cork was an IRA ambush in 1920 in which 17 Auxiliaries died, while 18 soldiers were killed in the Provo ambush at Narrow Water near Warrenpoint in 1979.

The tweet sparked outrage from IRA victims and unionist politicians.

First Minister Arlene Foster said she would be contacting the Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl about the comments.

She said: “Although deleted, it is outrageous that someone with such warped views can hold a senior position in the Dáil.

“Sinn Féin talk about respect and equality but there’s not much sign of respect for victims.”

Mr Stanley later deleted his tweet and said: “I apologise for the content of an inappropriate and insensitive tweet I sent yesterday.”

A soldier who survived the Narrow Water massacre also told of his disgust at the republican politician’s comment on the 1979 atrocity.

Tom Caughey was an 18-year-old Paratrooper travelling in an Army convoy from Ballykinler to Newry when an 800lb bomb in a parked trailer exploded, killing six soldiers.

Mr Caughey, who was severely injured, was being airlifted to hospital when a second bomb hidden in a gatehouse where troops sought cover was detonated, killing 12 more.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: “I am not shocked that this has come from Sinn Féin.

“What about attacks like the Enniskillen bomb, when people came to mourn the war dead? Was that also about reminding us about the cost?

“This is a party that speaks about respect and equality but where is it today?

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“This man is in a position where he should know and say better than that.”

Ulster Unionist justice spokesman Doug Beattie MLA said: “His comments confirm that there would be no place for those who identify as unionist or British in a United Ireland.”

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said: “For a Sinn Féin TD to continue to eulogise these events in 2020 is depraved and sickening and highly insulting to the families broken by these heinous events, particularly the Narrow Water massacre, where first and second generation relatives are still alive, as well as many of the surviving injured.”

Sinn Féin said: “We note that Brian Stanley has deleted a tweet that was inappropriate and insensitive, and that he has apologised.”

The party added: “We all have a responsibility in this Decade of Centenaries to remember and commemorate the past in a respectful manner.”

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