Mary Lou backs Stanley during intense grilling on Twitter post

SF leader says issue with IRA killings tweet was one of 'tone'

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald was quizzed on the actions of TD Brian Stanley

Cormac McQuinn

Mary Lou McDonald has faced intense questioning on the Brian Stanley Twitter affair and other issues during a radio interview with RTÉ's Today With Claire Byrne.

The Sinn Féin leader had the following responses yesterday:

On Mr Stanley's tweet about IRA attacks in 1920 and 1979: In his tweet, the Laois-Offaly TD had drawn parallels between the 1920 War of Independence Kilmichael Ambush where 17 Auxiliaries died and the 1979 Warrenpoint attack by the Provisional IRA in which 18 British soldiers were killed.

Ms McDonald said the desirability of comparing the two attacks "will depend on your political vantage point". She also claimed the problem with the tweet was the "tone" and the impression to many that it was "perhaps even gloating".

She raised no issue with the Warrenpoint attack and was supportive when it was put to her that Sinn Féin's view is that the soldiers were legitimate targets.

Ms McDonald was later forced to admit Tom Barry, who led the 1920 ambush, did not support the Provisional IRA's 1970s campaign of terror.

On the Provisional IRA's bombing campaign, Ms McDonald said: "The facts are that we came through historically an experience of colonisation, dispossession, poverty and conflict and that's the reality of the history of our island."

On allegations Mr Stanley's 2017 tweet about Leo Varadkar was homophobic: When Mr Varadkar was elected Fine Gael leader, Mr Stanley posted: "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."

Ms McDonald claimed the political charge levelled in the post "is not a homophobic one, it is of being a Tory".

On Mr Stanley staying as chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Ms McDonald said: "Absolutely he should.

"He has made mistakes and he will address those matters in the Dáil."

On a Sinn Féin member calling to a young activist's door telling her to remove critical tweets:

Ms McDonald said anybody can criticise Sinn Féin and claimed there is "nobody trying to censor anybody".

She also said she wouldn't think twice about "knocking on a cumann member's door".

On the reluctance of 55pc of Sinn Féin supporters to take the Covid-19 vaccine, Ms McDonald said: "There will be concerns for citizens, upstanding people, sane people, who will ask questions correctly about the vaccine." But the Sinn Féin leader added: "I will have the vaccine. Vaccines save lives."