Sinn Fein politician apologises for tweeting about two IRA attacks which ‘taught British army cost of occupation’

A member of the Irish parliament has apologised for posting a tweet that celebrated two historical attacks by the IRA on the British Army.

Brian Stanley, the Sinn Fein representative for Laois/Offaly, posted the message on Saturday and has subsequently deleted it.

The chairman of the Dail’s public accounts committee wrote to his 3,700 followers: “Kilmicheal [sic] (1920) and Narrow Water (1979) the 2 IRA operations that taught the elective of [the] British army and the establishment the cost of occupying Ireland. Pity for everyone they were such slow learners.”

Saturday was 100 years to the day since the Kilmichael ambush during the war of independence.

Mr Stanley’s post drew swift condemination, with Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, calling it “really insensitive and stupid”.

The Fine Gael politician added in an interview with RTE’s Good Morning Ireland: “It was a really insensitive and stupid thing to tweet. This isn’t someone in Sinn Fein who allowed a rush of blood to the head who is inexperienced.

“Brian Stanley is a senior Sinn Fein TD, he is chair of the Public Accounts Committee, he should know better than this.

“Sinn Fein speak publicly about the need for legacy infrastructure to deal with the past in a sensitive way. They talk about reconciliation yet a senior Sinn Fein person comes out with this bile on social media which is really about division and hatred.

“This kind of language needs to be consigned to history. We are trying to live in peace on this island.”

Arlene Foster, Northern Ireland’s first minister, said she would write to the chair of the Dail about the incident.

The Kilmichael ambush was an attack carried out by the IRA during the War of Independence in which 17 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliary Division were killed.

The Narrow Water ambush took place during the Troubles and saw 18 British soldiers killed by the IRA near Warrenpoint, in 1979.

The attack took place the same day provisionals blew up a fishing boat off the coast of Mullaghmore in Co Sligo, which killed Lord Louis Mountbatten, a second cousin to Queen Elizabeth who served in two world wars.

Mr Stanley’s tweet received more than 500 likes on the platform and was shared close to 400 times.

Sinn Fein noted that Mr Stanley had apologised for the “inappropriate and insensitive” tweet, adding: “We all have a responsibility in this decade of centenaries to remember and commemorate the past in a respectful manner.”

Additional reporting by Press Association

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