Ireland

Sinn Féin's Eoin Ó Broin unrepentant over controversial social media post showing gardaí involved in Famine-era eviction

The 19th century painting doctored by Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí
The 19th century painting doctored by Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí The 19th century painting doctored by Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí

A LEADING Sinn Féin TD has said he is standing over a controversial social media post that has been criticised by political rivals and a garda representative body.

Former Belfast councillor Eoin Ó Broin, the party’s housing spokesperson in the Dáil, posted a tweet that includes an image of a famine era eviction, reworked to feature private security officers and gardaí.

Based on a 19th century painting, the doctored image was created by Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí.

The 19th century painting doctored by Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí
The 19th century painting doctored by Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí The 19th century painting doctored by Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí

"No words needed,” the Dublin Mid-West TD posted above the image.

Posted on Saturday April 1, the tweet came hours after the Republic’s eviction ban was lifted.

Charities in the south have warned of a surge in homelessness over the coming weeks.

There have been a number of high profile incidents in recent years where Gardaí have become involved in evictions.   

Garda policy states that members should not engage in tenancy disputes “unless a criminal offence is alleged or disclosed”.

Members of the Dublin government, which last month narrowly won the vote to lift the eviction ban, reacted angrily to the tweet and urged Mr Ó Broin to delete it.

Interim Justice Minister Simon Harris said the post shows what Sinn Féin “really think of the Gardaí”.

“The mask slips,” he said.

“It’s offensive, inappropriate and disrespectful to the men and women of An Garda Síochána.”

Interim Minister for Justice Simon Harris. Picture by Niall Carson/PA
Interim Minister for Justice Simon Harris. Picture by Niall Carson/PA Interim Minister for Justice Simon Harris. Picture by Niall Carson/PA

Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell told Newstalk the tweet was “utterly pathetic”.

“I think it is entirely inappropriate for a prominent member of the opposition to frame An Garda Síochána in such a way,” he said.

“I would reiterate what the Minister for Justice has said, that the mask has slipped on Sinn Féin, who we all know have a chequered history when it comes to respecting the authority of An Garda Síochána up and down the country.”

AGSI (Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors) general secretary Antoinette Cunningham described the Sinn Féin TD’s tweet as “deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate”.

But Mr Ó Broin remained unrepentant and at the time of writing the tweet had not been deleted.

"That is what happens in cases of a court ordered eviction,” he said.

“The tweet is intended as a criticism of government policy, not the gardaí.”