Belfast Telegraph

Republic minister says sorry for C-word tweet aimed at Sinn Fein man

By Geraldine Gittens

The Republic's Minister for Foreign Affairs has expressed regret after using the C-word in an offensive tweet aimed at a Sinn Fein politician.

Charlie Flanagan caused a stir when he referred to "c***" politics in a tweet targeting Donegal TD Padraig MacLochlainn.

The bizarre Twitter exchange happened when Laois-Offaly TD Mr Flanagan made a statement on Twitter clearly aimed at Sinn Fein.

He told voters: "2015 offers Ireland the choice of constitutional politics or cult politics."

In response, Mr MacLochlainn tweeted: "Hopefully cult politics doesn't make a comeback."

He attached a photograph of Irish 'Blueshirts' giving a fascist salute in the 1930s.

The right-wing militant Blueshirt movement - officially known the Army Comrades Association - modelled itself on European fascist groups. The security organisation would later merge with other groups that supported the Anglo-Irish Treaty to give birth to Fine Gael, Mr Flanagan's party.

In response to Mr Flanagan's initial "cult politics" tweet, one of the TD's followers told him: "I think that was a spelling mistake."

Mr Flanagan responded: "Yep, left out the 'n'."

He also directed the tweet to Mr MacLochlainn.

The minister later issued a statement expressing regret.

"I made a new year's statement warning people of the dangers of cult politics and the choice for the next general election will be cult politics or constitutional politics," he said. "I regret if people took offence. I'm not going to comment any further."

Mr MacLochlainn said the minister should apologise to the public for the remarks.

"His comments were clearly inappropriate to the office that he holds," he said.

"I personally don't need an apology. I'm in politics a while so I have a thick skin.

"However, I do think he should apologise to the citizens of Ireland for making a comment that is unbecoming of the office he holds."

In the Twitter row that followed, some pointed out that Gerry Adams had referred to unionists as "b******s", although the Sinn Fein leader insisted he had been talking about bigots, racists and homophobes.

Former Belfast Sinn Fein candidate Chris Donnelly wrote: "Never mind Gerry Adams' b******s, FG Minister Charlie Flanagan has gone for a four-letter word. 2015 promises to be hot."

But another Twitter user wrote: "That was in the 1930s, Padraig. Provos had uniforms much more recently."

Mr Flanagan was recently involved in the Northern Ireland talks that led to the Stormont House Agreement, and will be involved in meetings to oversee its implementation.

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