Sinn Féin members resign saying party has ‘failed to take action’ on racism, homophobia and bigotry
Several Sinn Féin members have quit the party in a backlash against the allegedly racist and homophobic comments made by MP Brian Stanley.
Stanley, Teachta Dála for the Laois-Offaly constituency, came under fire last week for an “insensitive” tweet about the deaths of British soldiers in an IRA bombing, as well as a bizarre reference to the sexuality of former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in 2017.
“Yippee [for the] tory. It’s Leo. [You] can do what [you] like in bed but don’t look [for] a pay rise the next morning,” he wrote after Varadkar was elected, a tweet which Taoiseach Micheál Martin said “clearly… had homophobic inferences”.
Stanley, 62, strenuously denied any suggestion of homophobia and refused to apologise to Varadkar for the tweet, claiming it was actually supporting gay rights.
He did, however, apologise for his more recent comments, which the Taoiseach condemned for “glorifying” IRA violence. Stanley has since deleted his Twitter account.
Party leader Mary Lou McDonald said she wouldn’t take disciplinary action because his comments were a “one-off” – despite the fact that the MP’s also been criticised for his “racist” remarks about Chinese imported chicken in radio interview from March.
It was the final straw for many Sinn Féin members, who felt they had no choice but to leave the party in protest.
They cited Stanley’s tweets as a major reason, which came to light as Leo Varadkar revealed the sheer scale of homophobic and racist abuse he is targeted with online, predominantly from Sinn Féin voters.
One Sinn Féin member who quit, Iósaf Ó Muirí, told the Belfast Telegraph that Sinn Féin “has failed to take robust action on racism, homophobia and bigotry”.
Another, Christine O’Mahony resigned from her role as the chairperson of Ógra Sinn Féin in UCD. She said on Twitter: “As a black and bisexual woman I can’t stay silent on these issues. My principles before party.”
publicly criticise the party through harassment & bullying. I am annoyed at the how the party has handled this issue, how silent they have been & the fact Brian Stanley is yet to apologise. I am highly disappointed I have had to make this decision but I have no other choice (2/2)
— Conor Cronin (@ConorCronin01) December 5, 2020
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And Órga Sinn Féin’s LGBT+ officer in the same university, Seán Pender said: “With the recent controversy surrounding Brian Stanley I’ve decided to step down”. He said it’s not something he wanted to do but “I feel it’s the best decision.”
They also raised concern about the party’s handling of remarks made by councillor Paddy Holohan, who was accused of racism and homophobia after he said that Varadkar’s “blood ran to India” and that the Taoiseach should be a family man. Holohan was suspended for five months.
PinkNews has reached out to Sinn Féin for comment.