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Ceann Comhairle ‘appalled’ by Brian Stanley tweet and calls for ‘credible political response’

Brian Stanley

The Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil has said that he was “appalled” by the tweet from Laois-Offaly Sinn Féin TD in relation to IRA attacks on the British army and that Stanley’s statement was “an affront to all those committed to democratic politics on the island of Ireland”.

The Irish Times has reported that Ceann Comhairle Sean O Fearghail has written to DUP leader Arlene Foster and that Deputy Stanley’s tweet “calls for a credible political response – one which sincerely acknowledges the hurt and offence caused to the families”.

It is understood Seán Ó’Fearghaíl’s letter was sent on Tuesday evening after Ms Foster complained about the now-deleted tweet from Brian Stanley who referenced incidents from the War of Independence and the Troubles.

“Like many political representatives North and South, I was personally appalled and profoundly dismayed by its contents,” he wrote.

“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.

“I know that you will agree that it is an enormous privilege to serve as an elected representative and particularly to hold a position of responsibility; however, there is a duty on us all 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.

“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.”

Mr O Fearghail said that while Brian Stanley “is an experienced and fair-minded member of Dáil Éireann, 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.”

Ms Foster said that although the tweet was deleted “it is outrageous that someone with such warped views can hold a senior position in the Dáil. SF talk about respect & equality but there’s not much sign of respect for victims”.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald said on Tuesday morning that she would not be removing Deputy Stanley from his position as chairman of the Public Accounts Committee as he is “very effective” and “even handed” in his role.

“He has apologised and he has withdrawn the tweet, that’s the most important thing for me. Secondly I feel absolutely certain that I can assure you that this was a singular, one-off mistake by Brian Stanley and one that will not be repeated.”

SEE ALSO – ‘Wholly inappropriate’ but key Sinn Féin TD rules out further action in relation to Brian Stanley