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Brian Stanley to make statement to the Dail about tweet controversy

The Sinn Fein TD is to take the next week off to spend time with his family at the request of his party leader, Mary Lou McDonald.

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Screengrab from Oireachtas TV of Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, apologising for posting a controversial tweet about the IRA murder of 18 British soldiers during the Troubles.

Screengrab from Oireachtas TV of Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, apologising for posting a controversial tweet about the IRA murder of 18 British soldiers during the Troubles.

Screengrab from Oireachtas TV of Sinn Fein TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, apologising for posting a controversial tweet about the IRA murder of 18 British soldiers during the Troubles.

Sinn Fein TD and PAC Chairman Brian Stanley has requested to appear before the Dail on December 15 following the recent tweet controversy.

Mr Stanley is to take the next week off to spend time with his family at the request of his party leader, Mary Lou McDonald.

It follows a meeting between the pair on Friday and calls from Government that he make a public statement and take questions before the Dail.

In a statement, Ms McDonald said: “Today I met with Teachta Brian Stanley. We discussed the ongoing public commentary relating to tweets he has posted and a radio interview he gave in March.

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has instructed TD Brian Stanley to take a week off following a number of controversies (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has instructed TD Brian Stanley to take a week off following a number of controversies (Niall Carson/PA)

PA

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has instructed TD Brian Stanley to take a week off following a number of controversies (Niall Carson/PA)

“At my request, Teachta Stanley will take next week to be with his family, for whom this period of public controversy has proven very difficult.

“Teachta Stanley has this afternoon written to the Ceann Comhairle to request time to make a full personal statement to the Dail on December 15.”

Mr Stanley had being facing mounting calls to appear before the Dail following a series of controversies.

On Wednesday, he publicly apologised for a tweet sent last weekend, which appeared to glorify historical killings of British soldiers by the IRA.

But he insisted he has “no apology to make” over a 2017 tweet he sent that appeared to comment on the sexuality of Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar.

The Laois-Offaly TD has now deleted his Twitter account.

On Friday, Taoiseach Micheal Martin rejected Mr Stanley’s explanations to date, and said the Public Accounts Committee was being undermined by him remaining as chairman.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin has sad he is not satisfied with Mr Stanley’s explanations to date (Julien Behal/PA)

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has sad he is not satisfied with Mr Stanley’s explanations to date (Julien Behal/PA)

PA

Taoiseach Micheal Martin has sad he is not satisfied with Mr Stanley’s explanations to date (Julien Behal/PA)

Mr Martin said: “I don’t quite understand his explanation in relation to that particular tweet. But it clearly had homophobic inferences.

“That’s just my perspective, it’s a perspective of many people who read that particular tweet.”

He added: “I think the credibility of the Committee is in question. I think he needs to reflect on that in terms of the issues that have arisen.

The Taoiseach also said he was not satisfied with the explanation provided by Mr Stanley about his tweet celebrating two historical IRA attacks on British forces.

It was posted on the centenary of the Kilmichael ambush in 1920 during Ireland’s War of Independence.

I wasn't entirely satisfied with the nature of the apology that was made.Taoiseach Micheal Martin

He drew a parallel with that IRA attack and the Provisional IRA bombings at Narrow Water in Co Down that killed 18 paratroopers.

Mr Martin said: “I think the manner in which he has dealt with them, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the nature of the apology that was made.”

The Taoiseach said the tweet was part of a wider agenda by Sinn Fein to justify the IRA violence perpetrated during the Troubles.

He said it is important that the younger generation “are not hoodwinked into thinking that all of these deeds over the last 30 years were glorious ones. They were far from it”.

Justice Minster Helen McEntee and Finance Minster Paschal Donohoe also made calls on Friday for Mr Stanley to appear before the Dail.

Ms McEntee herself has had to come before the Dail to answer questions on the appointment of Seamus Woulfe to the Supreme Court following pressure from Sinn Fein.

Aside from the tweets, other controversies have come to light this week in relation to the Sinn Fein TD for Laois-Offaly.

In a radio interview in March, Mr Stanley suggested that people should not buy chicken from China because of the coronavirus pandemic, despite having little evidence to support the claim.

Mr Stanley’s wife Dwane Stanley, a Sinn Fein councillor, was condemned by the National Union of Journalists on Friday over a post she made on Facebook.

In it, she suggested that the national broadcaster RTE should be defunded if Sinn Fein gets into government.

She wrote: “When SF get into Government one of the first things it should do is remove all public funds from RTE.”

NUJ Irish secretary Seamus Dooley said: “While she is entitled to her view on the media, her demand for defunding of RTE based on coverage of matters of legitimate public interest is irrational and should be disowned by Sinn Fein.

“Ireland has largely avoided the Trump-like attempts to intimidate the media and Sinn Fein should make it clear that it does not approve of this stance.”

On Thursday, Mr Stanley said he had “no apology to make” over the 2017 tweet.

Mr Stanley has rejected accusations of homophobia over the tweet he sent when the Tanaiste was elected Fine Gael leader.

I don’t have any apology to make to anybody. The point I was making was it’s great that we have achieved the right for gay people and for women and ‘yippee to that’.Brian Stanley, Sinn Fein

It read: “Yippee 4 d tory. it’s Leo. U can do what u like in bed but don’t look 4 a pay rise the next morning.”

Speaking at the launch of a PAC report on Thursday, Mr Stanley said that his record on campaigning on LGBTI issues “stands for itself”.

He added: “I don’t have any apology to make to anybody. The point I was making was it’s great that we have achieved the right for gay people and for women and ‘yippee to that’.

“But the point I was making was that we still had the missing piece. As a republican, the missing piece for me was to try and advance the rights of workers and to improve their conditions.”

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