A newly elected Social Democrats TD has said she regrets any offence caused by a number of old Twitter posts, including one where she called Pope Francis the leader of a paedophile ring.
Cork South-West TD Holly Cairns also posted a tweet seven years ago where she said she would get an abortion "for every minute of air time taken up on the papal conclave".
The tweets were posted in March 2013 after Pope Francis was elected and before she became involved in politics.
The tweets were uncovered by the Irish news website Gript which launched last year with funding from the anti-abortion lobby. Several of her tweets date back to 2012 and 2013.
In one tweet posted on March 13, 2013, the day Pope Francis was elected, Ms Cairns wrote: "For every minute of air time taken up on the papal conclave I'm gonna get an abortion #pope."
Three days later Ms Cairns wrote: "New paedophile-ring-leader Describes Gay Adoption as 'Child Abuse'," with a link to an article that is no longer online.
In another tweet in December 2012, Ms Cairns posted: "The pope is gonna get so cyber bullied, can't wait #pope #vatican."
This was in response to the setting up of an official Twitter account for the papacy.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Ms Cairns said she had deleted many of the tweets in question.
"I was much younger and they weren't the best-advised tweets," she told the Independent.ie.
"I regret any offence caused. I took them down for that reason. I am really sorry for any offence caused."
A spokeswoman for the Social Democrats said: "It was seven years ago, Holly was much younger and clearly they weren't the best-advised tweets. She sincerely regrets any offence she may have caused."
Ms Cairns, a farmer and small business owner, won the third and final seat in the Dáil constituency of Cork South-West in the General Election earlier this month. Her partner, Fianna Fáil's Christopher O'Sullivan, was also elected to the Dáil for the same constituency.
Her election came as a surprise to many outside observers given she had only been elected to Cork County Council in May 2019 following a marathon count and recount which saw her eventually take the local authority seat by one vote.
She is the third newly elected TD who has had to contend with controversy over old social media posts since the election.
Last week, Sinn Féin's Réada Cronin apologised "unreservedly and wholeheartedly" to those offended by a number of tweets where she used offensive language, questioned the fluoridation of the public water supply and linked Israel to Nazism.
The week beforehand another newly elected Sinn Féin TD, Violet-Anne Wynne, was revealed to have expressed strong opposition to the HPV and other vaccinations in a series of social media posts.
The Sinn Féin press office said Ms Wynne's comments were "old remarks" which did not "reflect Sinn Féin policy".