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Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley seeks to make 'full personal statement' to the Dáil

Brian Stanley has insisted he has nothing to apologise for over a tweet about Leo Varadkar.

Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated Dec 4th 2020, 4:23 PM

SINN FÉIN TD Brian Stanley is to seek to make a statement to the Dáil on Tuesday week and will not be in the Dail for the upcoming week.

In a statement today, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said that she met with the Laois-Offaly TD in the wake of controversies over separate tweets and statements he made about Leo Varadkar, Chinese chicken and the IRA.

McDonald said he will “take the next week to be with his family”, suggesting he will not be at a scheduled sitting of the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday of which he is chair.

McDonald said she and Stanley “discussed the ongoing public commentary relating to tweets he has posted and a radio interview he gave in March”.

“At my request, Teachta Stanley will take next week to be with his family; for whom this period of public controversy and comment has proven very difficult,” the Sinn Féin leader said. 

Teachta Stanley has this afternoon written to the Ceann Comhairle to request time to make a full personal statement to the Dáil on the 15 December.

The controversy comes after Stanley apologised last week over a tweet about two IRA attacks on the British army.

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

Speaking before McDonald’s statement this afternoon, Taoiseach Micheal Martin had said that the controversy was affecting the credibility of the PAC. 

“The credibility of the committee is in question and I think he needs to reflect on that. In terms of the issues that have arisen and I think the manner in which he has dealt with him,” Martin said. 

I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the nature of the apology that was made. It’s part of a wider agenda by Sinn Fein to essentially justify the narrative of the last 30-odd years. That’s a problem for me and I think it’s a problem in terms of making sure that younger generations, growing up in this country are not hoodwinked or not misled into thinking that all these deeds over the last 30 years were glorious ones, they were far from it. 

Deleted

Last night, Stanley’s social media accounts were deleted after he earlier insisted that he had nothing to apologise for regarding a tweet he sent about Leo 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,” the Sinn Féin agriculture spokesman wrote. 

Stanley insisted that his record on gay rights “speaks for itself” when asked to clarify his tweet yesterday.

“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,” he told the Public Accounts Committee.

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.

“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.”

Stanley went on to say that short tweets can be “misinterpreted”.

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

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

Maria Walsh Fine Gael MEP tweeted: “If Deputy Stanley really believes someone’s sexuality is linked to their abilities in their workplace…

“What is this saying to fellow LGBTQI citizens who face hate speech & discrimination on a daily basis across Europe?”

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said the fact that Stanely’s social media accounts were deleted raises more questions. 

Why did he delete his Twitter account, what other comments are there? I think the two questions that he needs to answer is number one, why should he still be in that role (on the PAC)? And number two, why was it necessary to delete his social media account?

Amid the controversies about Stanley’s Twitter activity comments he made on local radio that suggested it could be possible to catch Covid-19 from chicken imported from China also emerged.

Stanley, who has been a TD since 2011, told Will Faulkner on The Midlands Today Show on Midlands 103 that he thought it was “unbelievable” that chicken imported from China was being sold in shops in Portlaoise.

Stanley made the comments at the start of the pandemic in March.

When asked if there is a risk presented by imported chicken he replied: “Well I don’t know that.”

I wouldn’t be having it for lunch, would you?

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

About the author:

Ceimin Burke

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