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Coveney: Sinn Fein tweet ‘insensitive and stupid’

Brian Stanley has since apologised for the now deleted tweet.

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Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Simon Coveney (Brian Lawless/PA)

Ireland’s foreign affairs minister said that an inflammatory tweet sent by a Sinn Fein TD was “really insensitive and stupid”.

Sinn Fein TD for Laois/Offaly Brian Stanley sent a tweet on Saturday celebrating two historical IRA attacks on the British army.

He has since apologised for the now deleted tweet.

Mr Stanley, who is also the chairman of the Dail’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC), sent the tweet on the centenary of the Kilmichael ambush in 1920.

He wrote to his 3,700 followers: “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.”

The tweet received widespread condemnation from across the political landscape.

Fine Gael TD Simon Coveney said it was another case within Sinn Fein of the “mask slipping”.

Graham Eve, a member of the Parachute Regiment who was deployed to secure the scene after the bombs at Narrow Water, said people who display such hatred are “oxygen thieves”.

“I fully understand the ruffled feathers, however how do we move on with such needless, childish, hate-filled tweets?” he added.

“I wish they could look outside the boxes they appear to live in and reflect on the beauty of this country instead and embrace it.

“We were soldiers, dying was in our job description.

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Graham Eve (Niall Carson/PA)

Graham Eve (Niall Carson/PA)

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Graham Eve (Niall Carson/PA)

“They had a good day and that’s the end of it. As long as we can remember them as our friends and reflect, then we must move on.

“Those who still display such hatred are just oxygen thieves and don’t deserve a response from those of us who were there that day only because of the violence being perpetrated by those who live in a time machine stuck in reverse.”

Sinn Fein’s Eoin O Broin said the party will not be taking any further action over the tweet.

He told RTE that the tweet was “wrong” and “wholly inappropriate”.

Mr O Broin added that Mr Stanley did the right thing by apologising and deleting the tweet.

A number of PAC members have criticised the TD over the tweet.

Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said she was “appalled” by the tweet, while Fine Gael’s Jennifer Carroll MacNeill said he should recuse himself as chair of the committee.

Mr Coveney added: “It was a really insensitive and stupid thing to tweet. This isn’t someone in Sinn Fein who allowed a rush of blood to the head who is inexperienced,” he told RTE’s Morning Ireland.

This kind of language needs to be consigned to history. We are trying to live in peace on this islandSimon Coveney

“Brian Stanley is a senior Sinn Fein TD, he is chair of the Public Accounts Committee, he should know better than this.

“Sinn Fein speak publicly about the need for legacy infrastructure to deal with the past in a sensitive way. They talk about reconciliation yet a senior Sinn Fein person comes out with this bile on social media which is really about division and hatred.

“This is another case of the mask slipping. There are many in Sinn Fein who want to progress reconciliation and are generous about that but there are some who clearly aren’t and this is really unhelpful in terms of what we are trying to do in Northern Ireland.

“His party needs to make a clear statement and his party needs to make sure these kind of comments don’t happen again in the future. This isn’t the first time this has happened.

“This kind of language needs to be consigned to history. We are trying to live in peace on this island.”

Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster said she is writing to the chair of the Dail about the incident.

The Kilmichael ambush was an attack carried out by the IRA during the War of Independence in which 17 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliary Division were killed.

The Narrow Water ambush took place during the Troubles and saw 18 British soldiers killed by the IRA near Warrenpoint, in 1979.

It is a matter for the parliament for the Irish Republic. It's not a matter for me to give advice or direction as to what should happenGregory Campbell, DUP MP

The attack took place the same day provisionals blew up a fishing boat off the coast of Mullaghmore in Co Sligo, which killed Lord Louis Mountbatten, a second cousin to Queen Elizabeth who served in two world wars.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell said it is a matter for the Irish Parliament in how it deals with the tweet.

“Unfortunately for many people in Northern Ireland and in the Republic too, this displays a mindset we have seen surface from time to time among Sinn Fein people,” Mr Campbell said.

“They seem to still want, as they move forward, to hold on to this rhetoric of the past which is extremely corrosive and divisive and causes problems in the younger generation, who think this is okay, that this is just the equivalent to shouting “up the ‘Ra” on some sort of night out.

“It has to be dealt with at the very heart of what is the mindset that creates some sort of tweet like this – which is appalling.

“It is a matter for the parliament for the Irish Republic. It’s not a matter for me to give advice or direction as to what should happen.

“But people will wait to see what happens.”

Mr Stanley’s tweet received more than 500 likes on the platform and was shared close to 400 times.

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