Taoiseach renews criticism of beleaguered Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley

Martin describes Narrow Water bombing in 1979 in which 18 British paratroopers died as ‘a crime against humanity’

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: he says   Brian Stanley’s   apology for celebrating “atrocities” has not gone far enough.  Photograph:  Getty Images

Taoiseach Micheál Martin: he says Brian Stanley’s apology for celebrating “atrocities” has not gone far enough. Photograph: Getty Images

 

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has renewed his criticism of beleaguered Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley, saying the Laois-Offaly Deputy’s apology for celebrating “atrocities” had not gone far enough.

In a strident criticism of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman, Mr Martin described the Narrow Water bombing in August 1979 – in which 18 British paratroopers died – as a “crime against humanity”, and also described the bomb attack in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, on the same day that killed Lord Louis Mountbatten and three others as a “war crime”.

“In my view I do not believe his [Mr Stanley’s] apology was comprehensive nor did it deal with the glorification of military events of which he spoke, or the deaths of so many people. There are loved ones of those who died who are still alive. That [tweet] was very upsetting to them,” said Mr Martin.

“It’s part of a wider agenda by SF to justify the narrative of the past 40 years,” he added.

Mr Martin said another tweet posted by Mr Stanley in 2017 about Fine Gael leader Leo Varadkar inferred homophobia in his view. The Taoiseach said it exacerbated the situation for the Sinn Féin TD, and called into question the reputation of the influential all-party PAC.

Mr Stanley published a tweet that praised the IRA ambush in Narrow Water, Warrenpoint, Co Down, as well as the Kilmichael ambush in 1920 that also resulted in the deaths of 18 British soldiers.

Within 24 hours of apologising, a second tweet about Mr Varadkar came to public attention. It was published by Mr Stanley on the day Mr Varadkar became Fine Gael leader.

Mr Stanley strongly rejected any suggestion of homophobic undertones in the tweet that read: “Yippee 4 de tory. it’s Leo. U can do what u like in bed but don’t look 4 a pay rise the next morning.”

Senior Fine Gael Ministers also implied that deleting his Twitter and Facebook accounts, which happened on Thursday night, might suggest he has something to hide.

Separately, Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said on Friday that Mr Stanley should come before the Dáil to explain himself on the matter.

Speaking on LMFM, she said: “My own view is that it referred very negatively and in a completely inappropriate way to the sexuality of my own party leader. And I do think he needs to clarify why he tweeted it, and what exactly it was in reference to, and I think that’s not just a political thing, I think LGBT groups would share the same view.”

LGBT community

PAC member Jennifer Carroll-McNeill said: “He is a senior Sinn Féin TD by virtue of his role and what he says matters. He needs to take a step beyond an apology.”

However, Sinn Féin TD Louise O’Reilly denied any homophobic inference in Mr Stanley’s’s tweet.

“When it was neither popular nor profitable Brian was a champion for the LGBT community and continues to be and continues to stand up for LGBT [rights],” she told RTÉ.

However, the tweets did prompt negative reaction and criticism within the party. Seán Pender from Kildare, who was an LGBT officer, announced he was resigning from Sinn Féin.

Former Sinn Féin Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown councillor and LGBT officer Chris Curran said Mr Stanley’s tweet on Mr Varadkar was “ridiculous and insensitive”.