| -1.4°C Dublin

twitter fiasco Sinn Féin's response to Brian Stanley tweet controversy was ‘woefully inadequate’, Varadkar says


Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Leo Varadkar

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar has claimed Sinn Féin’s response to controversy following social media posts by TD Brian Stanley has been “woefully inadequate."

Speaking in the Dáíl, Mr Varadkar said he thought it “might not be a bad idea and could be helpful” if Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald was to make a statement to the Dáil next week, along with her party colleague, Brian Stanley.

Mr Stanley, who has already apologised over a tweet said to be “glorifying violence” by the Provisional IRA in killing 18 members of the Parachute Regiment at Narrow Water in 1979, has said he is not homophobic and has worked to advance gay rights.

But a 2017 tweet under his name, making Leo’s election as leader of Fine Gael, said: “Yippee for d tory. You can do what you like in bed, but don’t ask 4 a pay rise in d morning.”

"It was something I was going to let pass to be honest and I didn’t say anything about it until Monday, because to be honest I’m not sensitive and I’m not self-righteous and I don’t believe in cancel culture,” Mr Varadkar said.

“And you know, people say things that are homophobic, sexist or misogynistic but it doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re homophobic or sexist or misogynistic themselves.

“And I think the test really is how do you respond to what is being pointed out to you? How do you deal with it?”
He said Mary Lou McDonald, in her interview as party leader on ‘Today’ with Claire Byrne on RTE Radio 1 on Monday had failed to deal with the issue.

"She tried to explain away what Deputy Stanley wrote and it’s not the first time either," he said.

Mr Varadkar then gave the example of another Sinn Féin councillor who he claimed had “made remarks about me that were blatantly homophobic, and racist -- and no action was taken by Mary Lou McDonald at the time.

“It was only when it was discovered he also made misogynistic remarks about women that any action was taken,” he said. “To me that shows a pattern of behaviour.

“If you’re in Sinn Féin and you’re a woman, from a minority ethnic background or if you’re an LGBT supporter you are celebrated.

"But if you’re LGBT, if you’re from an ethnic background and you're not a Sinn Féin supporter – then those aspects of you are fair game.

"They’ve proved that now, and I think that’s wrong and it’s been very badly handled by them.”

Mr Varadkar said he experienced “a fair spattering” of online abuse of all kinds from time to time. "I don’t want to make an issue of it, I really don’t,” he said, although he spoke to the Fine Gael parliamentary party last week about racist and homophobic social media postings about him, claiming many came from Sinn Féin supporters.

"Anybody who is from a minority background, you get this sort of stuff all of the time,” Mr Varadkar said.

“I’ve never felt this stuff has held me back. Nor have I made a big deal of it. I don’t want to now, but I really did feel that the response yesterday was woefully inadequate.”

Download the Sunday World app

Now download the free app for all the latest Sunday World News, Crime, Irish Showbiz and Sport. Available on Apple and Android devices

Online Editors