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McDonald: Sinn Féin Senator's suspension for 'unacceptable' retweet is a 'severe' punishment

Senator Máire Devine has been suspended for three months.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Image: Thierry Monasse

SINN FÉIN PRESIDENT Mary Lou McDonald has said that the three-month suspension given to a party Senator for an “unacceptable” retweet is “more than a rap on the knuckles”.

Senator Máire Devine retweeted a tweet from a parody government account which referred to prison officer Brian Stack, who was shot dead by the IRA in the 1980s, as a ‘sadist’.

After initially defending her actions, Senator Devine issued an apology and said she “deeply regretted” what happened.

Stack’s son Austin Stack has said that suspension of the senator was not sufficient and that she should be expelled from the party and should resign from the Seanad.

Speaking today on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Sinn Féin leader McDonald said that Devine “is [in] no doubt that she has been severely and definitively punished”.

“The retweeting of this material was entirely unacceptable. It represented the poorest of poor judgement on behalf of Senator Devine. She has of course and quite correctly fully apologised for the matter and we acted swiftly,” McDonald said.

She has been disciplined and been left in absolutely no doubt as to the gravity and the seriousness of her actions, and a three-month suspension for anyone in political life is a serious sanction. The whip has been removed and her party membership has been suspended.

“And for anyone in a profession to receive such a sanction is a very open and public rebuke, it is certainly more than a wrap on the knuckles,” the Dublin Central TD added.

Asked about whether Devine should be removed from the party, McDonald said this would not be appropriate.

FILE Sinn Fein Senator Maire Devine has been suspended from the party for three months after what Sinn Fein describes as unacceptable twitter activity last night. END Sinn Féin Senator Máire Devine. Source: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

“You don’t arbitrarily dismiss anybody from any organisation that is a rule-based organisation. You work the procedures, we have worked the procedures. And the Senator is in no doubt that she has been published.”

Speaking later this morning on RTÉ’s Sean O’Rourke programme, Austin Stack said that Senator Devine had “brought the Oireachtas into disrepute” and should resign.

“What she has done is well below the standards of any public representative, ” he said.

Brian Stack

Brian Stack (48) was the chief prison officer at Portlaoise Prison when he was shot while leaving a boxing match in Dublin in 1983. The father-of-three died 18 months later from his injuries.

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No one has ever been convicted over the attack that was carried out by the Provisional IRA.

Austin Stack and his brother Oliver have led a campaign to find out who killed their father. After being critical of the original investigation, the Stack family sought the help of former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in order to find answers.

File Photo The family of prison officer Brian Stack, who was shot dead by the IRA over 30 years ago, has accused one section of An Garda Síochána of frustrating the inquiry into his murder by withholding information from investigating officers. Mr Stack Austin Stack has called for the resignation of Senator Máire Devine. Source: Sam Boal

Following that contact, Adams facilitated a meeting between them and a former IRA leader who told them that the perpetrators of the attack were still alive and that one of them had been disciplined.

Adams has faced calls to identify this ex-IRA leader and Austin Stack has previously accused Adams of lying about their interactions.

Read: Mary Lou says senator who retweeted post calling IRA victim a ‘sadist’ made ‘catastrophic error’ >

Read: ‘I was actually in jail’ – Mayhem in Dáil as FG TD links SF deputies to Brian Stack murder >

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Rónán Duffy

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