Northern Ireland news

Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley apologises over 'insensitive' tweet

Brian Stanley linked the Kilmichael ambush with the killing of 18 paratroopers at Narrow Water

A SINN Féin TD has been criticised for describing the Narrow Water killings in Co Down as a lesson to "slow learners" about the cost of "occupying Ireland."

Brian Stanley tweeted on the centenary of the Kilmichael ambush in 1920 that the two attacks were "IRA operations that taught the elite of the British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland."

The chair of the Dáil's Public Accounts Committee added: "Pity for everyone they were such slow learners".

Mr Stanley said the "inappropriate and insensitive" tweet had been deleted.

Eighteen British soldiers were killed at Narrow Water, outside Newry, in two IRA bomb in August 1979

Seventeen members of the Royal Irish Constabulary were killed at Kilmichael, Co Cork, in the War of Independence.

The tweet was condemned by First Minister Arlene Foster, who described it as "shameful".

She said she planned to raise it with the Ceann Comhairle, the chairperson and speaker in the Dáil (Irish parliament).

Stormont Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said Mr Stanley deleted his “inappropriate and insensitive” tweet.

“We all have a responsibility to commemorate in a responsible manner.”

She said old battles should not be refought.

“Our mission is to bring all the people of this island together and not keep us apart.”

She said next year should not be defined by rancour and division.

The Republic of Ireland's Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney  said the tweet, which has since been deleted, amounted to "bile" which only adds to "division and hatred."

Mr Coveney called on Sinn Féin to make a "clear statement" adding that the party has a "responsibility" to move away from what he described as hatred.

"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."

Mr Coveney added: "This isn't the first time this has happened. You know whether we hear shouting of 'Up the Ra' after the general election, whether we see senior Sinn Féin figures marching in St Patrick's Day parades with 'Brits Out', this kind of language needs to be consigned to history.

"We're trying to actually live in peace and reconciliation on this island with each other, nationalists and unionists and many others as well."

Brian Stanley linked the Kilmichael ambush with the killing of 18 paratroopers at Narrow Water

SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole said: "Quite aside from the insensitivity, this kind of stuff is profoundly counterproductive.

"There is no route to a new Ireland without persuading people, and there is no way to persuade those people while glamorising the IRA."

Ulster Unionist justice spokesman Doug Beattie described the tweet as "vile and reprehensible".

"His comments confirm that there would be no place for those who identify as unionist or British in a united Ireland."

In a statement issued on Sunday night, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said the party had noted Mr Stanley had deleted a tweet that was "inappropriate and insensitive and that he has apologised".

The spokesperson added: "We all have a responsibility in this decade of centenaries to remember and commemorate the past in a respectful manner."

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