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SF's Phil Flanagan apologises to Mairia Cahill

Mairia Cahill said she planned to complain to the Stormont Assembly Standards committee about a tweet written by Phil Flanagan

SINN Féin's Phil Flanagan has been forced to apologise to Mairia Cahill following criticism about a post he aimed at her on social media.

The assembly member came under fire for posting a message on Twitter about her in response to a newspaper article she had written.

Ms Cahill had suggested in her article that "maybe the only way to get to the bottom of the truth on Sinn Féin and its relationship with the IRA is to hold a public inquiry".

Last year Ms Cahill said she was raped as a teenager and later interrogated by the IRA about her allegations.

She later went to the police and a case was brought against the alleged rapist and those said to have been involved in the IRA inquiry.

But all charges were dropped and the accused rapist acquitted after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.

Following her article yesterday, Mr Flanagan wrote on Twitter: "Some irony in @mairiac31 arguing that a cross examination in court is need to get to the truth".

His tweet saw dozens of responses criticising his post with one describing it as "a disgusting thing to say".

Ms Cahill responded on Twitter: "Phil you are an absolute disgrace. I'm complaining to Assembly Standards over this tweet and referring you to (Sir Keir) Starmer".

Irish Labour party senator Lorraine Higgins was among those who criticised Mr Flanagan.

She ?wrote on Twitter: "Outrageous tweet from @PhilFlanagan in an attempt to taunt @mairiac31 after all she has been through. No moral compass in existence."

TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin also said: "Really don't want to get involved in mud slinging over serious NI crisis. But for MLA to publicly ridicule an abuse survivor is disgusting."

Mr Flanagan later removed the offensive tweet and issued an apology to Ms Cahill on Twitter.

He tweeted: "@mairiac31 I'm sorry if my tweet earlier caused you any upset or offence. This was not my intention & I apologise for it.

But Ms Cahill responded by tweeting: "'I'm awaiting a direct apology from you Phil. If I don't get it - I will take it that you stand over what you said".

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