Jewish council dismayed at Sinn Féin TD’s ‘unacceptable’ tweets

Pearse Doherty: What is important is Réada Cronin apology and that remarks were withdrawn'

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty with Eoin Ó Broin (left) speaking to media at Leinster House on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin’s Pearse Doherty with Eoin Ó Broin (left) speaking to media at Leinster House on Wednesday. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times

 

The Jewish Representative Council of Ireland has expressed disappointment that Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald did not condemn incendiary remarks by newly elected TD Réada Cronin.

The tweets included numerous remarks that were critical of Israel. They included a claim that European wars were instigated and funded by banks and the retweeting of a message that Hitler was a pawn for a bank owned by the Rothschild family.

Chairman of the council Maurice Cohen said the tweets were “inaccurate, anti-Semitic and racist. A little education on what constitutes anti-semitism would go a long way to correcting this problem.”

Asked for comment in light of Mr Cohen’s statement, a Sinn Féin spokesman reiterated that the tweets “do not represent the views of Sinn Féin” and said Ms Cronin had “apologised unreservedly for the remarks”.

Earlier on Wednesday Sinn Féin finance spokesman Pearse Doherty said comments made on social media by Ms Cronin were “not acceptable” and that her decision to apologise and withdraw the remarks was “the right thing to do”.

Mr Doherty said that “there’s nobody sitting in the party looking at the accounts of every single Sinn Féin member or gagging people in relation to what they’re saying. What is important is that if . . . there are comments that are inappropriate that they are withdrawn and they are apologised for”.

Last November, Ms Cronin replied to an anonymous Twitter account which suggested “loads of judges are paedophiles” by saying: “Wouldn’t surprise me.”

Sinn Féin’s new TD for Kildare North Réada Cronin.
Sinn Féin’s new TD for Kildare North Réada Cronin.

She has also criticised the fluoridation of drinking water in Ireland as “poisoning our water”.

“I do understand that Réada made some of those comments before she was even a member of Sinn Féin. But I also understand that she has unreservedly withdrawn those comments and apologised for them and I think that’s the right thing to do,” added Mr Doherty. “She’s also made it very clear that they are not . . . the Sinn Féin position. And I think that’s the right thing to do.”

He said it was “unacceptable” for anyone to espouse the views outlined.

“There are guidelines in relation to how people conduct themselves on social media . . . So the party has guidelines and not just for our elected representatives but also for our members.”

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar described Ms Cronin’s comments as anti-Semitic and anti-science. “This is not the kind of change we need,” he said.

Former minister for justice Alan Shatter said Sinn Féin should expel Ms Cronin from the party. Her comments were not “once off” and that “there is a pattern” to her social media statements, he said.

“If Sinn Féin have any decency, any sense of commitment to change, they should expel her for it,” said Mr Shatter.

He accused Sinn Féin of censorship, as Ms Cronin’s account had been locked since the controversy emerged. “[They] don’t want journalists to be able to access egregious material.”

Mr Shatter, who is Jewish, called on the Garda to investigate the tweets and whether they constituted an incitement to hatred. “It is important that laws on incitement to hatred are implemented and others do not believe they have impunity to act in this way.”