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Brian Stanley apologises for IRA tweets: We need to talk about the past in a way that doesn't deepen division

The Sinn Féin TD repeated his apology for a tweet he sent over the weekend about two IRA attacks.

Committee colleagues accepted Staneley's apology but some said he should now make a statement in the Dáil.
Committee colleagues accepted Staneley's apology but some said he should now make a statement in the Dáil.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

SINN FÉIN TD Brian Stanley has repeated his apology in relation to his tweet about two IRA attacks on the British army.

The Laois/Offaly TD, who is also the chair of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), sent the tweet on Saturday, on the centenary of the Kilmichael ambush in 1920.

He wrote to his 3,700 followers: “Kilmicheal (sic) (1920) and Narrow Water (1979) the 2 IRA operations that taught the elective of (the) British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners.”

In a statement on Sunday, Stanley apologised “for the content of an inappropriate and insensitive tweet that I sent”.

There have since been calls for Stanley to step down from his chairmanship of the PAC for a period of time over the matter. 

Reading a statement at the beginning of today’s PAC meeting, Stanley told the committee he needs to be more aware of the responsibility he holds not to do anything that’s disrespectful of others.

In repeating his apology, he said: “My tweet fell below the standards, not just the standard we expect from each other, but the standard I expect from myself as a member of the Dáil and for that I am genuinely sorry.”

“I also want to apologise to all my colleagues for the position I put you all in,” he said.

“We need to be able to talk about the past in a way that is honest to our beliefs, but also doesn’t deepen division or cause hurt,” added Stanley.

“As an Irish Republican, and as someone who in a position of political leadership. I have to be more aware of my responsibility to ensure that I do not do anything that is disrespectful to others,” he said.

Since the mid-1980s, throughout the Hume / Adams dialogue, and “finally to the achievement of the Good Friday Agreement, I have actively supported initiatives to bring more peace on the island”, he added.

Fine Gael’s Colm Burke said the tweet sent by Stanley was not the first Sinn Féin tweet to be deleted. He called on Stanley to make a full statement in the Dáil so as to re-establish the credibility of himself and the PAC.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said she acknowledges that Stanley took the tweet down and apologised, but said it has caused “quite a deal of attention”.

Fine Gael’s Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said he should go further than an apology to this committee, stating that such tweets are “becoming more and more normalised just as we move to a period of commemorations”.

Fianna Fáil’s Marc MacSharry accepted his apology, stating that the tweet was insensitive.

However, he called for a quantum of sorts be drawn up so as to list offences or slights by those in public office, and what level they should be reprimanded.

“I think as a nation we have become a colosseum” where we are “far too anxious to set up a guillotine”, said MacSharry.

He said far too often, no matter what the indiscretion, there is “one outcome every time – to seek somebody’s head”.

Sinn Féin Matt Carthy said anyone who knows Brian Stanley will acknowledge that he’s a “good man, first and foremost, he’s a fair man, he’s certainly a very fair and effective Chair of this committee in the short number of months since we’ve been in existence”.

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Sinn Féin’s Imelda Munster said Stanley’s apology was a genuine apology and said that should be the end of the matter. 

Stanley said his actions were his alone, stating: “I was wrong, I have apologised, I say that sincerely”.

“I am solely responsible, I am solely responsible for my actions,” he added, telling his committee colleagues that he is giving them a commitment both through his words and his actions that they can have confidence in him as chair of the PAC.

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