The Ceann Comhairle of the Dail has said a tweet by a Sinn Fein TD about the IRA murders of 18 British soldiers during the Troubles requires a “credible political response”.
Sean O’Fearghail’s said he was “appalled and dismayed” by Brian Stanley’s now deleted social media post.
In a letter to Stormont First Minister Arlene Foster, Mr O’Fearghail suggested no further action would be required if Mr Stanley “properly addressed” the issue at the “earliest opportunity”.
The chair of the Public Accounts Committee has already apologised for the tweet.
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.Sean O Fearghail
DUP leader Mrs Foster had written to Mr O’Fearghail on Monday to express concern about the post.
Mr Stanley, a TD for Laois/Offaly, sent the tweet on Saturday celebrating two historical attacks on British forces.
It was posted on the centenary of the Kilmichael ambush in 1920 during Ireland’s War of Independence.
He drew a parallel with that IRA attack and the Provisional IRA bombings at Narrow Water in Co Down that killed 18 paratroopers.
He wrote to his 3,700 followers: “Kilmicheal (sic) (1920) and Narrow Water (1979) the 2 IRA operations that taught the elite of d (sic) British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners.”
Mr Stanley subsequently apologised.
On Tuesday, his party leader Mary Lou McDonald insisted it was a “one-off mistake” that will not be repeated.
Mrs McDonald said she would not remove him from his Oireachtas committee chair role.
In his letter to Mrs Foster on Tuesday, the Ceann Comhairle said of the tweet: “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.
“As elected representatives I believe that we have a shared responsibility to address the legacy of the past in a respectful way, promote reconciliation and support victims and their families.”
Mr O’Fearghail said there was a duty on all elected representatives to uphold the “fundamental values and standards that are the cornerstones of democratic politics”.
“You will appreciate that as Ceann Comhairle, I must be particularly conscious of the independent and non-partisan nature of my office,” he wrote to Mrs Foster.
“Nonetheless, I do believe that the statement on Twitter made by Deputy Stanley calls for a credible political response – one which sincerely acknowledges the hurt and offence caused to the families who lost loved ones in Narrow Water as well as the hurt and offence caused to those who suffered grievously during the thirty years of violence in Northern Ireland.”
He understands that it was ill-judged and that the tweet has caused upset and unnecessary controversy and for that he has apologised.Mary Lou McDonald
The Ceann Comhairle said he had given the matter “very careful consideration”.
“While I know him to be an experienced and fair-minded member of Dail Eireann, 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.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Ms McDonald said Mr Stanley was very apologetic, adding that it was a “regretful” attempt to drawn comparison between two separate incidents.
“He understands that it was ill-judged and that the tweet has caused upset and unnecessary controversy and for that he has apologised,” Mrs McDonald told RTE Morning Ireland.
“He has apologised and withdrawn the tweet. That’s the most important thing for me.
“I can assure you this was a singular, one-off mistake and one that will not be repeated.”
I had written to the Speaker of the Dail following the SF TDâs appalling comments about the Narrow Water Massacre. This evening, I received his reply.— Arlene Foster #WeWillMeetAgain (@DUPleader) December 1, 2020
Important that action is taken. Brian Stanleyâs comments were shameful and deeply offensive to innocent victims. pic.twitter.com/ivHFDvXMQZ
Mrs McDonald said she will not remove him from his role on the PAC.
“He’s very effective, he’s even-handed and a fair chair,” she added.
“It’s a very important committee and he will address it with his colleagues when they meet on Wednesday.
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 attack took place the same day the Provisional IRA blew up a fishing boat off the coast of Mullaghmore in Co Sligo, which killed Lord Louis Mountbatten, a second cousin to the British Queen, who served in two world wars.