• Sun. Feb 26th, 2023

Finance Minister says SF TD must explain why he deleted accounts; apology ‘not enough’

Dec 4, 2020

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has said that the apology issued by Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley over his social media posts was not enough.
The social media accounts of the Laois-Offaly TD were deleted Thursday night in the aftermath of controversy over two separate tweets.
On Thursday, Mr Stanley said he had nothing to apologise for over a tweet he sent about Leo Varadkar in 2017 when he was elected leader of Fine Gael.
In the tweet sent in 2017, Mr Stanley, now head of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) wrote yippee 4 d tory. its Leo. U can do what u like in bed but dont look 4 a pay rise the next morning.
Speaking during the launch of a PAC report on Thursday, Mr Stanley said his record on campaigning for gay rights speaks for itself.
Mr Donohoe told RTÉ Morning Ireland on Friday that a tweet linking a persons sexuality with their ability to do their job was utterly unacceptable .
You cant be making those comments about anybody. Were a different and better country than that, Mr Donohoe said.
He said that the comments had been indicative of Sinn Féins attitude to politicians they oppose.
When asked if Mr Stanley should resign from his position as chair of the PAC, the Minister said that Mr Stanley had questions to answer if he was to stay in the role.
Why did he delete his Twitter account, what other comments were on there?
Mr Donohoe said that Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald and the party had to answer that question today.
The tone of Mr Stanleys tweet was unacceptable and was poisoning the well of how we debate politics in this country. . . He has to explain why he needed to delete the account, Mr Donohoe said.
Mr Stanley told The Irish Times on Thursday: As far as I can see this is a co-ordinated effort coming from Fine Gael and certain sections of the media and if thats the game they are playing I am not being part of it. I am not allowing people to misconstrue [MY COMMENTS].
Speaking during the launch of the PAC report, Mr Stanley said, Some people have set out to try and twist this in some way. I dont have to apologise to anyone because my record on gay rights stands for itself. I campaigned in every campaign for gay rights. I grew up in an Ireland where gay people were criminalised. I grew up in an Ireland where women were treated appallingly. So I dont have any apology to make to anybody.
Mr Stanley added: Let me say this, if we are going to get to the point where we dont allow some level of freedom of speech and for every word to be twisted and turned then we are not going very far as a society.
Asked to explain the tweet, he said: What I meant in that tweet was, we were trying to push legislation and measures regarding workers rights and minimum wage and minimum wage. The point I was making was it is great that we have achieved the rights for gay people and women and yippee to that. But the point I was making was we still had the missing piece as a republican, the missing piece, to try and advance the rights of workers.
Mr Stanley said that short tweets can be misinterpreted.
Yippee meant I celebrate the fact we got so far in terms of the rights for gay people.
Some people in the other main parties, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, it did take a period of time, and I do not mean that in a disrespectful way, to come around on the issue of gay rights and contraception.
In further comments provided by Sinn Féin, Mr Stanley said: I am involved in politics all of my life and standing up for the rights of all citizens, including the rights of the LGBT community, has been key to everything that I have done. My record speaks for itself.
That tweet was about Leo representing people who get up early in the morning but his refusal to support the living wage. It doesnt mean or suggest anything else.
Social Democrats co-leader Catherine Murphy said she did not think Mr Stanleys 2017 tweet was acceptable.
Deputy Stanley has told us of his own role in the furtherance of rights of people, gay and bisexual and LGBT in general, and I accept that but I dont think it is ever acceptable to link someones sexual orientation with public policy. I dont think the reference to the (former) Taoiseach is acceptable.
The Dublin wing of Ógra Sinn Féin said on Wednesday night that the tweet was sent in relation to comments Mr Varadkar made during the Fine Gael leadership campaign about representing people who get up early in the morning.
However, there was unease amongst some members of Sinn Féin about the message with a number of members airing concerns on social media.
Mr Stanley apologised on Wednesday for a controversial tweet on Saturday in which he referenced incidents from the War of Independence and the Troubles.
He said his actions were his own. I take full responsibility for them. There is no one else that needs to take responsibility. I am very conscious of what you have said.