Sinn Féin TD’s social media accounts deleted in aftermath of controversy

Brian Stanley says he has nothing to apologise for over 2017 tweet

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, apologising for posting a controversial tweet

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, apologising for posting a controversial tweet

 

The social media accounts of Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley were deleted tonight in the aftermath of controversy over two separate tweets.

The Laois/Offaly deputy told The Irish Times: “As far as I can see this is a coordinated effort coming from Fine Gael and certain sections of the media and if that’s the game they are playing I am not being part of it. I am not allowing people to misconstrue [my comments]”.

His Twitter and Facebook accounts were no longer visible.

Earlier, Mr Stanley said he had nothing to apologise for over a tweet he sent about Leo Varadkar in 2017 when he was elected leader of Fine Gael.

In the tweet sent in 2017, Mr Stanley, now head of the Public Accounts Committee wrote “yippee 4 d tory. it’s Leo. U can do what u like in bed but don’t look 4 a pay rise the next morning.”

Speaking during the launch of a PAC report, Mr Stanley said his record on campaigning for gay rights “speaks for itself.”

“Some people have set out to try and twist this in some way. I don’t have to apologise to anyone because my record on gay rights stands for itself. I campaigned in every campaign for gay rights. I grew up in an Ireland where gay people were criminalised. I grew up in an Ireland where women were treated appallingly. So I don’t have any apology to make to anybody.”

Mr Stanley added: “Let me say this, if we are going to get to the point where we don’t allow some level of freedom of speech and for every word to be twisted and turned then we are not going very far as a society.”

Asked to explain the tweet, he said: “What I meant in that tweet was, we were trying to push legislation and measures regarding worker’s rights and minimum wage and minimum wage. The point I was making was it is great that we have achieved the rights for gay people and women and yippee to that. But the point I was making was we still had the missing piece as a republican, the missing piece, to try and advance the rights of workers.”

Mr Stanley said that short tweets can be “misinterpreted”.

“’Yippee’ meant I celebrate the fact we got so far in terms of the rights for gay people.

“Some people in the other main parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, it did take a period of time, and I do not mean that in a disrespectful way, to come around on the issue of gay rights and contraception.”

In further comments provided by Sinn Féin, Mr Stanley said: “I am involved in politics all of my life and standing up for the rights of all citizens, including the rights of the LGBT community, has been key to everything that I have done. My record speaks for itself.

“That tweet was about Leo representing people ‘who get up early in the morning’ but his refusal to support the living wage. It doesn’t mean or suggest anything else.”

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said she did not think Mr Stanley’s 2017 tweet was acceptable.

“Deputy Stanley has told us of his own role in the furtherance of rights of people, gay and bisexual and LGBT in general, and I accept that but I don’t think it is ever acceptable to link someone’s sexual orientation with public policy. I don’t think the reference to the (former) Taoiseach is acceptable.”

Earlier, senior Fine Gael members called on Mr Stanley to clarify the tweet sent in June 2017 as Leo Varadkar became party leader.

Fine Gael MEP Maria Walsh called on Sinn Féin to “set to record straight” on tweet, saying the party needs to clarify what was meant by the message.

“They need to set the record straight as a party. This is much bigger than just one tweet from Brian Stanley. This is the essence of what opposition politics looks like.

“It is disappointing to see this from a public representative. The whole Sinn Féin party need to acknowledge this.

“From a personal and professional standpoint when you get into the arena of politics, there are consequences for whatever we put out there on social media.”

Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond said: “This tweet from Deputy Stanley is extremely worrying and, most fair minded people would see it as completely inappropriate.

“There should be no place for such commentary anywhere in Irish society and Deputy Stanley must, again, account for his online actions.

“Bearing that in mind and some of the horrendous abuse put to the Tánaiste online, a genuine intervention is needed from Sinn Féin to address the Deputy Stanley latest inappropriate tweet.”

The Dublin wing of Ógra Sinn Féin said on Wednesday night that the tweet was sent in relation to comments Mr Varadkar made during the Fine Gael leadership campaign about representing people who get up early in the morning.

However there was unease amongst some members of Sinn Féin about the message with a number of members airing concerns on social media.

Mr Stanley apologised on Wednesday for a controversial tweet in which he referenced incidents from the War of Independence and the Troubles.

He said his actions were his own. “I take full responsibility for them. There is no one else that needs to take responsibility. I am very conscious of what you have said.”

On Saturday, the Laois-Offaly TD tweeted in reference to the Kilmichael Ambush in 1920 and the Narrow Water Massacre in Warrenpoint, Co Down.