Sinn Féin TD apologises for tweets, stressing ‘homophobia is abhorrent’

Brian Stanley makes personal statement in the Dáil after week away from politics

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has apologised in the Dáil following controversies over two separate tweets.

Mr Stanley, head of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), said he was “committed to learning” from his mistakes, and stressed on the question of one controversial tweet about Leo Varadkar that “homophobia is abhorrent to me”.

Mr Stanley took a week away from politics at the request of party leader Mary Lou McDonald. He also deleted his social media accounts following criticisms of two separate messages.

The first tweet that caused controversy was written on November 28th in which Mr Stanley referenced 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 [the] British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners”.


Less than 24 hours after apologising for that tweet, Mr Stanley was forced to defend himself against alleged homophobia in a tweet posted on the day Mr Varadkar became Fine Gael leader in 2017.

In that message Mr Stanley wrote “yippee 4 d tory. it’s Leo. U can do what u like in bed but don’t look 4 a pay rise the next morning.”

Regarding the Kilmichael tweet, Mr Stanley said it was insensitive and caused upset and anger “and for that I am truly sorry”.

Mr Stanley said “we need to be able to talk about the past in a way that doesn’t cause division, deepen division. We must be sensitive in how we talk about the past and be respectful of the views that others may hold about the past that may be different.”

In his tweet about Mr Varadkar in 2017, he said “the point I was trying to make was that’s great” that someone who was gay was elected “but let’s also focus on workers’ rights and rights of people on low income and economic justice,” he said.

“I accept that it was a point I did not articulate in a very good way and that the tweet was open to different interpretations.

“Homophobia is abhorrent to me,” he added.

“I did try to contact the Tánaiste today to express my apology personally and I will do so again, after this.”

Mr Stanley said “I hope that those I’ve hurt accept my apologies and that my colleagues accept the sincerity of my statement.”

He added: “I own my own mistakes and the hurt that I caused. I’m at fault and I’m responsible for the accusations that have been levelled at me.

“I’m committed to learning from these mistakes and be sure of this to work even harder to promote the causes of equality, inclusion understanding and reconciliation.”

Before he started Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl said that under Dáil rules “no debate or statements by other members can arise in the aftermath of Deputy Stanley’s contribution”.

Meanwhile members of the Oireachtas public petitions committee are due to decide this afternoon whether to meet on Thursday to hear from Sinn Féin TD Martin Browne about a recent interview with Tipp FM.

Mr Browne was forced to adjourn the first official meeting of the committee last Thursday after members called on him to explain comments about the IRA and party discipline.

The Tipperary TD said that apologies “should stop” when asked about IRA killings during the Troubles and Sinn Féin’s approach to their remembrance.

In the wake of former Sinn Féin member Christine O’Mahony leaving the party after a member called to her door to ask her to remove critical tweets, Mr Browne also said he had gone to the homes of members with whom he disagreed.

Separately, Mr Browne apologised for sharing controversial Facebook posts in recent years, including one pushing a conspiracy theory that the 9/11 attacks in the United States were faked.

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran

Marie O'Halloran is Parliamentary Correspondent of The Irish Times

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray

Jennifer Bray is a Political Correspondent with The Irish Times