Sinn Féin TD’s tweet needs ‘credible political response’, Ceann Comhairle says

Seán Ó Fearghaíl said he has given the matter 'careful consideration' since Brian Stanley’s tweet was reported in the media. File photo
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A controversial tweet from a Sinn Féin TD will require a “credible political response”, the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil has said in a letter to the Northern Ireland First Minister.

The Irish Times understands Seán Ó Fearghaíl’s letter was sent on Tuesday evening after Arlene Foster complained about the now-deleted tweet from Brian Stanley who referenced incidents from the War of Independence and the Troubles.

Ms Foster said that although the tweet was deleted “it is outrageous that someone with such warped views can hold a senior position in the Dáil. SF talk about respect & equality but there’s not much sign of respect for victims”.

In his letter, Mr Ó Fearghail said that while he is conscious of the “independent and non partisan” nature of his office, he believes a “credible political response” is now needed.

“Like many political representatives North and South, I was personally appalled and profoundly dismayed by its contents. To post such a hurtful statement on social media is not only highly disrespectful to victims and their families but an affront to all those committed to democratic politics on the island of Ireland,” he wrote.

The Ceann Comhairle said he has given the matter “very careful consideration” since Deputy Stanley’s tweet was first reported in the media.

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“While I know him to be an experienced and fair-minded member of Dáil Éireann, I believe that it would be in keeping with the values and standards that we all hold dearly, particularly reconciliation and mutual respect, if the matter were to be more properly addressed at the earliest opportunity. In such circumstances, it would not be necessary to consider other actions.”

On Saturday, the Laois-Offaly TD tweeted in reference to the Kilmichael Ambush in 1920 and the Narrow Water Massacre in Warrenpoint, Co Down in 1979, claiming they were “the 2 IRA operations that taught the elite of d British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners”.

Eighteen British soldiers were killed at Warrenpoint by the Provisional IRA in August 1979. A total of 17 British soldiers were killed during the War of Independence incident at Kilmichael, alongside three IRA men.

The tweet had provoked an online backlash. It is understood that if Sinn Féin do not take further action, TDs will take up the issue at the Dáil’s committee on procedures where such complaints are dealt with.

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