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'clumsy' Brian Stanley tweet was a 'one-off mistake,' Mary Lou McDonald says

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Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald (Niall Carson/PA)

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said she will not be punishing TD Brian Stanley for an insensitive tweet he sent about the murder of British soldiers.

Speaking on RTÉ Radio One’s Morning Ireland, Ms McDonald said that she is “absoloutely certain that this was a singular, one-off mistake by Brian Stanley and one that will not be repeated.”

She added that he will not be punished further as he apologised and deleted the tweet after it was deemed “inappropriate and insensitive”.

“Well, he has apologised and withdrawn the tweet and that's the most important thing for me,” said Ms McDonald.

She added: “I think it’s a lesson for all of us just how thoughtful and mindful we need to be in the comments that we make publicly and on social media platforms, because we are now in a period where we will be marking centenaries of many events that many of us regard as pivotal moments in our struggle for national independence, but events that still evoke very strong reactions from people of a different traditional political tradition.”

The TD, who is chairman of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, wrote 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.”

In a statement, Mr Stanley apologised for the tweet, writing: “I apologise for the content of an inappropriate and insensitive tweet that I sent yesterday.”

When asked if Mr Stanley will be removed from his position of chairman of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee, the Sinn Féin leader said no.

“No I won’t, Brian is a very effective, even-handed and fair chair of the public accounts committee,” she said.

“It is a very important committee and the work is essential and I am anxious that he continues. He will of course address the controversy with committee colleagues when they meet on Wednesday.

“He is more than fit to chair this committee. He is a steady, low-key kind of individual. He is extremely competent and experienced so the answer is yes he will continue with that work.”

Former Sinn Féin MP for West Tyrone Barry McElduff resigned two years ago after putting a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head on the anniversary of the Kingsmills Massacre.

When asked why Mr Stanley shouldn’t resign but Mr McElduff did, the Sinn Féin leader said: “You deal with these cases as they present and at the time Barry felt given the debt of hurt felt by the victims of that particular event that was his course of action.”

Ms McDonald added that she wished to apologise to “people like (her)” who wish to recall and remember history honestly, but that the tweet jarred.

She said: “I want to apologise universally to people who, like me, like all of us, wish to forge a constructive pathway ahead and for whom that particular tweet jarred because it goes against the grain of what is a challenging proposition on the one hand to honestly recall and remember our history and what happened, but at the same time to do it mindful of others.”

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