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Sinn Fein TD apologises for controversial IRA tweet

Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, made a statement to his committee colleagues about the now deleted social media post.

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The Memorial to the Narrow Water Massacre (PA)

The Memorial to the Narrow Water Massacre (PA)

The Memorial to the Narrow Water Massacre (PA)

A Sinn Fein TD has apologised for posting a controversial tweet about the IRA murder of 18 British soldiers during the Troubles.

Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, made a statement to his committee colleagues about the now deleted social media post.

In his first public comments about the post, Mr Stanley said he is “genuinely sorry” for the offence caused.

He said the tweet fell below the standard he expects of himself.

Mr Stanley, a TD for Laois/Offaly, sent the tweet on Saturday celebrating two historical attacks on British forces.

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

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

Addressing the PAC on Wednesday, Mr Stanley said: “I am very conscious, as the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, that the controversy has placed you all in a difficult and totally unnecessary situation, particularly when this committee has such important work to carry out.

“What I was attempting to do was to highlight the disastrous decision to partition the country almost 100 years ago in the wake of events such as Kilmichael, that we still have conflict that went on for a long time and a lot of suffering took place.

“I deleted the tweet and I apologise for posting it.

“As an Irish republican and someone in position of political leadership I have to be more aware of my responsibility that I do not say anything that is disrespectful to others.”

I also want to apologise to all my colleagues for the position I put you all in.Brian Stanley

He said he has actively supported initiatives to bring about peace on the island.

“On Sunday I apologised for any offence that I caused due to the insensitive nature of the tweet and I want to repeat that apology to you here today,” he added.

“I also want to apologise to all my colleagues for the position I put you all in.

“My tweet fell below not just the standard we expect of each other, but the standard I expect for myself as a member of the Dail, and for that I am genuinely sorry.”

Fine Gael’s Colm Burke said that the tweet was offensive.

“Your party leader said it was a one-off tweet, but there have been a number of tweets put up over the last number of months which was subsequently withdrawn,” Mr Burke added.

“There is a lot of speculation out there that some of these tweets are being deliberately and carefully drafted and I believe this is not the way to deal with issues and create division.”

He called for Mr Stanley to make a full statement to the Dail about the matter.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said she wanted an assurance it is an one-off incident.

Sinn Fein’s Matt Carty said commended his party colleague for apologising for the incident.

He described the tweet as “clumsy”.

“You have accepted it wasn’t the place to have arguably an important debate that we all need to participate in,” Mr Carty added.

“Anybody who knows Brain Stanley will acknowledge he’s a good man, he’s certainly a fair and effective chair of this committee.”

The post also prompted DUP leader Arlene Foster to write to Ceann Comhairle of the Dail Sean O’Fearghail on Monday to express concern about the post.

Mr O’Fearghail said he was “appalled and dismayed” by Brian Stanley’s now deleted social media post.

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