Sinn Féin will not seek resignation of suspended Senator Maire Devine

Taoiseach and murdered prison officer’s son call for her to step down

Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine was suspended from the party for three months after she retweeted a post referring to Brian Stack, who was chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison and was shot in Dublin in 1983.

Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine was suspended from the party for three months after she retweeted a post referring to Brian Stack, who was chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison and was shot in Dublin in 1983.

 

Sinn Féin will not seek and does not expect the resignation of Senator Maire Devine despite increasing calls for her to stand down from her position for retweeting a malicious post about a prison officer murdered by the IRA.

Ms Devine was suspended from the party for three months after she retweeted a post referring to Brian Stack as a “sadist prison officer”.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Mr Stack’s son Austin called for the suspended Senator to stand down from her role or for the party to remove her.

Mr Varadkar said Ms Devine’s actions were similar to that of former MP for West Tyrone Barry McElduff, who resigned after posting an offensive video about the Kingsmill massacre.

She did not just disrespect the memory of the late prison officer, but “she also didn’t take it back and continued to engage in that”, the Taoiseach said.

We should not be reposting material or endorsing sites, pages or people from people or groups who are politically opposed to us

A spokesman for the party said Ms Devine’s actions were unacceptable and required disciplinary action but insisted there was no expectation that she would resign.

Sinn Féin social media guidelines

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and Labour leader Brendan Howlin criticised Sinn Féin’s response to the controversy.

Wider problem

Mr Martin said the incident was not isolated and was part of long-standing strategy by the party to impugn Mr Stack’s character, while Mr Howlin said it was part of a wider problem within Sinn Féin.

The Irish Times has seen a copy of the party’s social media guidelines, which advises members against adopting a casual, naive or irresponsible approach to social media .

It reminds them that Twitter, Facebook and blogs are “helpful political tools” but are public forums “accessible to the public and journalists as any statement issued by the press office”.

It is specific about the reposting of information and states retweeting will be “viewed as a tacit endorsement of that site or page”.

“So we should not be reposting material or endorsing sites, pages or people from people or groups who are politically opposed to us.”

Good judgment

The guidelines urge members to be responsible, exercise good judgment and common sense.

Party representatives should not send offensive or harassing material to others, and “avoid trolls”.

“Don’t get caught in to an endless and pointless debate with some one whose view you are not going to change in a million years.”