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30th Nov 2020

Simon Coveney describes Sinn Féin TD’s tweet about IRA attacks as “really insensitive and stupid”

Conor Heneghan

Brian Stanley

Coveney said that it was “another case, unfortunately, of the mask slipping”.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has described a tweet posted by Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley about historical IRA operations as “really insensitive and stupid”.

Coveney was responding to a now deleted tweet by Stanley on Saturday, which mentioned IRA operations in Kilmichael in Cork in 1920 and at Narrow Water, near Warrenpoint in Down in 1979, which Stanley said taught “the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland”.

17 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) died during the IRA ambush at Kilmichael, the 100-year anniversary of which fell on Saturday, while 18 British soldiers were killed during the IRA ambush at Narrow Water.

Stanley’s tweet read: “Kilmicheal (sic) (1920) and Narrow Water (1979) the 2 IRA operations that taught the elective of British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners.”

Stanley, a TD for Laois/Offaly and the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, has since apologised for the tweet, which was subsequently deleted.

Speaking to Morning Ireland on Monday, Coveney said Stanley’s tweet was “really insensitive and stupid” and “another case of the mask slipping” in relation to Sinn Féin.

“Well I think it was a really insensitive and stupid thing to tweet,” Coveney said.

“And I mean, this isn’t someone in Sinn Féin who, you know, a lot of rush of blood to the head who’s inexperienced, I mean Brian Stanley is a senior Sinn Féin TD. He’s the chair of the Public Accounts Committee. He should know better than this.

“You know, Sinn Féin speak publicly and on the Dáil record all the time about the need for legacy infrastructure to deal with the past in a sensitive way in Northern Ireland. They talk about reconciliation. Yet, a senior Sinn Féin person comes out with this bile on social media, which is really about division and hatred to be honest.”

“And you know, this is another case, unfortunately, of the mask slipping,” Coveney added.

“There are many in Sinn Féin who I believe want to progress reconciliation and are generous about that. But there are some who clearly aren’t.”

Coveney added that the comments were “really unhelpful and completely insensitive” and harmed attempts to help victims’ families on both sides of the Troubles and harmed progress on reconciliation.

On Sunday, Northern Ireland First Minister Arlene Foster signalled her intention to write to the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil about Stanley’s tweet, saying it was “outrageous that someone with such warped views can hold a senior position in the Dáil”.