Prominent Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin is being urged to withdraw an attack on former party leader Gerry Adams and other party colleagues who he has criticised for being unapologetic for causing “hurt or pain or trauma”.
The party’s chief media spokesperson in the 26 Counties had called on Mr Adams to apologise for a Christmas comedy sketch in which the former Sinn Féin president appears as a carol singer and sings “‘Tis the season to be jolly, tiocfaidh ár lá, lá, lá, lá, lá”.
‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’, a traditional republican slogan, means ‘Our day will come’.
Another character in the irreverent and self-deprecating video clip notes that carol singers “haven’t gone away you know”, a phrase famously used by Mr Adams in 1995 in reference to the Provisional IRA.
Speaking on Irish radio, the Dublin Mid-West TD said Sinn Féin should be careful with their language after the sister of an IRA victim said she was offended by the sketch.
Asked should Mr Adams apologise, Mr Ó Broin replied: “Let me say one thing before I give you a straight yes or no answer. I don’t believe for a second Gerry either intended to cause hurt or offence to anybody; I really don’t. But given the fact that offence has been caused, yes, I think for him to apologise for the offence that has been caused would be helpful.”
Mr Ó Broin added: “There is nothing I can do to undo the hurt or pain or trauma that republicans, including some people I have worked with directly and very closely for many years, have caused. What I can do, and (Waterford TD) David Cullinane and our generation of republicans, is: one, make sure we never have a return to conflict ever again and, two, we all do everything we can to build as peaceful and as united a future as possible.
“Will we make mistakes along the way? Yes we will and I’m a long-standing believer that if you make a mistake hold your hand up and apologise and learn from your mistake.”
However, Mr O Broin appeared isolated after Mr Cullinane, Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill and other leading Sinn Féin figures said they would not be calling on Mr Adams to apologise for the video, which was made in support of the Foyle Rescue charity.
It is the latest controversial tirade by Mr O Broin, who has previously condemned colleagues for social media posts which refer to the IRA in a positive manner.
Last year he claimed fellow TD Brian Stanley was “guilty of colossal errors of judgement” following a social media post in which he mentioned the IRA’s 1979 Narrow Water attack on the British Army.
Despite the failure of O Broin to win public support within the party, including from close colleague and current Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, Irish News commentator John Manley suggested the attack on Mr Adams was “a shot across the bow” for an internal heave against republicans within the party.
He wrote that it would be seen as “a straw in the wind, the surest sign yet that the Sinn Féin which is on track to be in government [in Dublin] within a matter of years wants to distance itself completely from the IRA.”