Sinn Féin TD Brian Stanley has made a personal statement addressing accusations of racism and homophobia in the Dail.
On Tuesday, December 15, Stanley gave a personal explanation regarding two Tweets which have been accused of containing racist and homophobic language. He spoke under Standing Order 56, which meant no other party members could debate or comment on his statement.
In the Dail, Stanley acknowledged the hurt caused by his tweets and his commitment to working on seeking reconciliation for those affected. The TD further stated that he has attempted to contact Tanaiste Leo Varadkar to express his apologies over the offence caused.
The TD went on to speak on his previous work as a politician, however, expressed, “my record is not a defence.” At the end of his statement before the Dail, Stanley shared, “I hope that those who were hurt accept my apologies.”
— RTÉ News (@rtenews) December 15, 2020
The TD’s statement follows strong criticism both within the Irish Government and in wider media over two past tweets. Stanley has been accused of homophobia and racism regarding his comments about the Kilmichael ambush in 1920 and Varadkar’s appointment as Taoiseach in 2017.
Following Varadkar’s appointment to Taoiseach, Stanley wrote on Twitter, “Yippie 4 d tory. it’s Leo. U can do what you like in bed but don’t look 4 a pay rise in the morning.”
Since the Tweet has resurfaced, Stanley publicly claimed that the meaning of his post was twisted. He stated that his words were meant to be celebratory for the LGBTQ+ community.
Speaking at the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Stanely stated, “Some people have set out to try and twist this in some way. I don’t have to apologise to anyone because my record on gay rights stands for itself. I campaigned in every campaign for gay rights.”
On December 7, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald defended Stanely on Claire Byrne Live this morning. She has since backed the position that the TD will not have to stand down as the chair of the Oireachtas PAC.
McDonald stated on Claire Byrne Live, “Brian Stanley is a very, very low key, thorough, and thoughtful kind of person. He doesn’t court controversy or attention. He has made mistakes, of that there is no doubt, and he has accepted that, and he will address those matters in the Dáil, but he is more than fit to chair the committee, he has all of the attributes and the ability for steadfast, analytical approach.”
Amid the ongoing controversy, a number of Sinn Féin members resigned from the party and its youth organisation. These included former Sinn Féin member Iósaf Ó Muirí, chairperson of Ógra Sinn Féin in UCD Christine O’Mahony, and LGBTQ+ officer of Ógra Sinn Féin, Seán Pender.
O’Mahony wrote on Twitter about resigning from her role as chairperson, “As a black and bisexual woman, I can’t stay silent on these issues. My principles before party.”
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