Sinn Féin suspends Senator Máire Devine over Stack retweet

Prison officer Brian Stack shot in 1983 by IRA and subsequently died 18 months after attack

Senator Máire Devine said she had retweeted what she thought was a genuine tweet without reading its full content. Photograph: Sinn Féin/Flickr

Senator Máire Devine said she had retweeted what she thought was a genuine tweet without reading its full content. Photograph: Sinn Féin/Flickr

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Sinn Féin has formally suspended Senator Máire Devine for three months after she retweeted a tweet referring to murdered prison guard Brian Stack as a “sadist prison officer”.

Brian Stack, an officer in Portlaoise prison, was shot in the neck in Dublin in 1983 by a member of the IRA and died 18 months after the attack.

A retweet by Senator Devine referred to his son Austin Stack, as the “Fianna Fáil son of a sadist prison officer”. The retweet has since been deleted from Senator Devine’s twitter account.

Sinn Féin said the party “strongly disapproves of what has happened. There can be no excuse for the hurt and offence which has been caused to the Stack family.”

Declan Kearney MLA, national chairman of the party, said the incident represented “unacceptable behaviour” on the part of an elected representative.

“The Ard Chomhairle has suspended, with immediate effect, Senator Devine from party membership and all party activities for a period of three months.

“The whip has been removed and Senator Devine will be outside of the Leinster House team for that period” he said.

Distress

Senator Devine apologised for retweeting the message: “It was never my intention to cause any distress or hurt, particularly to victims of the conflict. I want to offer my most sincere apologies to the family of the late Brian Stack.”

Austin Stack, who has campaigned for his father’s murderer to be brought to justice, called the tweet “disgusting,” and said the party should go further and expel Ms Devine.

“The new SF president Mary Lou McDonald promised us a fresh start. She promised us that this sort of behaviour was in the past but as can be seen from the Barry McElduff affair and now this, we know that these low standards aimed at silencing their victims are still the norm within that organisation” said Mr Stack.

This is the latest political embarrassment for Sinn Féin. In January the party’s Barry McElduff resigned as a Westminster MP following a controversial video he posted on Twitter with a loaf of Kingsmill bread on his head.

The video has tweeted on the 42nd anniversary of the Kingsmill massacre, where 10 Protestant workers were murdered by republicans in Co Armagh in 1976.

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