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Brian Stanley says he's 'an ally of the LGBT community' and he wishes to apologise to Leo Varadkar

The Sinn Féin TD apologised for two tweets he sent that have caused controversy.

Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley.
Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

SINN FÉIN TD Brian Stanley has said he has sought to apologise to Tánaiste Leo Varadkar personally following a tweet he sent about his election as Fine Gael leader in 2017.

Stanley was speaking in the Dáil this evening following the controversy over tweets he sent last month and in 2017, one about two IRA attacks and a second about Varadkar. 

Stanley is the chairman of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and his party has said he would be continuing in that role. 

The Laois-Offaly TD was returning to the Dáil today after he had taken a week at home with the approval of his party leader Mary Lou McDonald TD. 

Speaking in the chamber, Stanley apologised for the tweets and asked for those offended and for TDs in the Dáil to accept his apologies.

Stanley had previously apologised last week over a tweet about two IRA attacks on the British army. 

In a message posted in late November, on the centenary of the Kilmichael ambush in 1920, Stanley wrote: “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 afterwards, Stanley apologised “for the content of an inappropriate and insensitive tweet that I sent”.

Following this, Stanley’s social media accounts were deleted after he insisted that he had nothing to apologise for regarding another tweet he sent about Varadkar when he was elected leader of Fine Gael in 2017.

“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,” tweeted Stanley at the time of Varadkar’s election.

In reference to his tweet about Varadkar, Stanley this evening said:

The impending election as Taoiseach of someone who is gay was rightly highlighted at the time as a sign of the progress that we have made as a country and as a State and followed on from the marriage equality referendum two years prior. That’s something that people were very proud of, and rightly so Ceann Comhairle. The point that I was trying to make was that’s great, but let’s also focus on advancing workers rights and the rights of people in low income and economic justice and issues such as a living wage’, which we don’t have yet in this country.

“I accept that this is a point that I did not articulate in a very good way and that that tweet is open to different interpretations. I did try to contact the Tánaiste today to express my apology personally to them and I will do so again following this address.”

“Homophobia is abhorrent to me and I absolutely deplore prejudice of any kind,” Stanley added.

And I realise that many people who have read my tweets don’t know me personally, they don’t know my record, they don’t know my stance on issues. But my record is not a defence, nor does it take away from any hurt caused.

Speaking about his tweet about the IRA attacks, Stanley said: “as we advance reconciliation in our country, we need to talk about the past in a way that doesn’t deepen division”.

I accept that my tweet regarding the ambushes at Kilmichael and Narrow Water was insensitive and that it caused hurt and anger. Words can do that and my words did and for that I am truly sorry. 

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PAC

Stanley made the comments under Standing Order 56 meaning there was no further debate or questions following his statement. 

His party leader McDonald yesterday told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland that it is the responsibility of ministers to be accountable to the Dáil and answer questions but not individual TDs who she said are “accountable to the people”.  

Deputy chair of the PAC Catherine Murphy TD last week stood in for Stanley during his period away from Leinster House. 

Speaking this morning before Stanley’s statement, Murphy said that the issue is “at the end of the day it is a disciplinary matter for Sinn Féin and the standards they have set for themselves.”

The SocDem co-leader said the PAC can’t have a situation where the launch of an important report last week is “overshadowed” by questions from reporters on the conduct of the chair.

“We can’t have a repeat of that,” she said, adding that, “At the end of the day, it is down to Sinn Féin about where they set the bar,” she said.

About the author:

Rónán Duffy

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