On Saturday, the Laois-Offaly representative marked the centenary of the IRA’s Kilmichael ambush – in which 17 members of the Royal Irish Constabulary Auxiliary Division were murdered – with a social media message also referencing the double bomb attack at Narrow Water.
His tweet, which has since been deleted, said: “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.”
The message was widely circulated on social media leading to calls for the TD to stand down from his role as chair of the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC).
At a PAC meeting on Wednesday, Mr Stanley addressed the committee saying he was very conscious that “the controversy has placed you all in a difficult and totally unnecessary situation, particularly when this committee has such important work to carry out.”
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He said: “What I was attempting to do was to highlight that, following the disastrous decision to partition the country almost 100 years ago, in the wake of events such as Kilmichael, that we still had conflict that went on for a long time and a lot of suffering took place.
“As we work to advance reconciliation on our island, we need to be able to talk about the past in a way that is honest to each other, to our beliefs, but also that doesn’t deepen division or cause hurt.”
Mr Stanley added: “As an Irish republican and someone in a position of political leadership, I have to be more aware of my responsibility, to ensure that I do not do anything that is disrespectful to others.”
In a statement on Sunday night, Sinn Fein described Mr Stanley’s tweet as “inappropriate and insensitive” for which he had apologised.
“We all have a responsibility in this decade of centenaries to remember and commemorate the past in a respectful manner,” the statement added.
First Minister Arlene Foster tweeted: “I will be writing to the Ceann Comhairle of the Dáil about this shameful tweet.
“Although deleted, it is outrageous that someone with such warped views can hold a senior position in the Dáil.
“SF talk about respect & equality but there’s not much sign of respect for victims.”
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