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Apology Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley says he is 'truly sorry' for 'insensitive' IRA ambush tweet

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Brian Stanley TD

Brian Stanley TD

Brian Stanley TD

Sinn Féin TD for Laois-Offaly, Brian Stanley, has accepted that his tweet equating an Old IRA ambush with one by the Provisional IRA was “insensitive” and had caused “hurt and anger".

For that I am truly sorry,” he said in a five-minute speech to the Dáil. No questions were allowed after the personal statement, which he made from 4.36pm.

“We need to be able to talk about the past, in a way that doesn't cause the division or deepen division,” Mr Stanley said.

“I accept that my tweet regarding the ambushes at Kilmichael and Narrow Water was insensitive, and it caused hurt and anger. Words can do that. And my words did. and for that I am truly sorry.”

Having thus dismissed his post about the killing of 18 members of the British Army outside Warrenpoint in August 1979, Mr Stanley moved on to another tweet he posted in 2017 on the day that Leo Varadkar was elected as leader of Fine Gael.

“The impending election as Taoiseach of someone who is gay was rightly highlighted, at the time, as a sign of the progress that we have made as a country, and as a State, and followed on from the marriage equality referendum two years prior.

“That's something that people are very proud of, and rightly so. The point that I was trying to make was that it's great, but let's also focus on advancing workers rights, and the rights of people on low income and economic justice and issues such as a living wage, which we don't have yet in this country.

He accepted however that he did not articulate this “in a very good way,” and that his tweet “is open to different interpretations.”

He added: “I did try to contact the Tánaiste today to express my apology personally to him, and it will do so again. Homophobia is abhorrent to me, and I absolutely deplore prejudice,of any kind, and all of us have realised that many people who have read my tweets don't know me personally. They don't know my record.

“This is is not a defence, nor does it take away from any hurt caused. It only provides an insight into the values that I hold as an activist, and as a political representative, and more importantly, as a person.

“As an ally of the LGBT community, I’m even more responsible and more accountable, and I recognised that. I hope that those who have been hurt accept my apologies, and my colleagues here except the sincerity of a statement.

“I own my own mistakes.”

Meanwhile Tipperary Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne, also mired in controversy over a social media comment, is ill at home, his party has confirmed.

The Oireachtas Petitions Committee, which Mr Browne chairs, will not now meet this week as a result, having failed to go into session last week because of a row over remarks on Facebook.

Mr Browne distributed 9/11 conspiracy theories on Facebook, along with lurid posts relating to the Pentagon, Nazis and Isis. He told Tipp FM, in an interview after the Stanley furore, that Sinn Féin should “stop apologising” for its core beliefs, including that there has been a continuous war against the British occupation of Ireland.

Fine Gael has withdrawn a request that the Petitions committee meet this week on the issue of Mr Browne’s opinions after learning that he is indisposed.

A Sinn Féin spokesman told the Irish Independent: “Martin is ill. But Martin made no issue of that. The reality is that they (Fine Gael) withdrew the request because they didn’t have the numbers to call a special meeting.”

He added: “He was briefly in hospital for a minor issue that flares up occasionally. He is back home. There is no connection of stress or to Covid.”

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