Sinn Féin has to address its social media policy after Stanley controversy - Minister of State

ireland
Sinn Féin TD has come under heavy criticism over offensive tweets.
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Vivienne Clarke

Fianna Fáil Minister of State Niall Collins has said that Sinn Féin has to address the wider issue of how the party approaches social media.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show, Mr Collins described tweets by the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Brian Stanley as “incredibly stupid and offensive” and he said it was puzzling that Mr Stanley was now claiming to be the victim of a targeted campaign. This was “a step too far,” he said.

Mr Collins said that during the Mother  and Baby Homes debate he had been “hugely abused” on social media by “Sinn Féin types.” When questioned about this he said the abusive tweets had been from Sinn Féin supporters, not necessarily members.

It was not acceptable that some people said one thing in person or in public, but something else on their social media account, he added.

Sometimes tweets can be misinterpreted.

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Leadership needed to be shown, it was an ongoing challenge. The issue had to be addressed at all levels, he urged.

On the same programme Sinn Féin’s health spokesperson Louise Reilly said that social media was not for everybody, “sometimes tweets can be misinterpreted.” Ms Reilly she had suffered her own share of abuse.

“If any offence was caused, of course Brian needs to engage and he needs to have those discussions with people.”

As a party colleague she knew Mr Stanely to be an ally to the LGBT community and a “very, very staunch campaigner, not just for LGBT rights but also for human rights".

It was important to understand the tweet in context, she said. “At the time in 2017, not just here in Ireland, but the whole world was talking about the fact that we had elected an openly gay head of Government.

“It is something for which we should rightly be proud, and Brian Stanley's remarks are in that context.”

However Ms O'Reilly said that the tweet had been left open to misinterpretation. Twitter was not the platform for everybody, “not everybody is suited to engagement on Twitter.”

Mr Stanley was not on the platform any more “as I’ve said it is not for everybody".

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