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Wednesday 13 November 2019

Dail hopeful sorry for tweets as she hits out at 'smear campaign'

Fianna Fail Dail candidate Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee
Fianna Fail Dail candidate Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee

Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee has apologised for tweets she posted in the past in which she used the words 'knacker' and 'Traveller' in a derogatory manner.

One Twitter message written by the Fianna Fail politician said celebrity Kim Kardashian had a "fat arse", while another told how a "black Brazilian dwarf with ginger hair" sat beside her on a bus.

Ms Clifford-Lee is a candidate in the Fingal constituency by-election which will be held on November 29, and has branded the publicity surrounding the tweets as a smear campaign.

The controversial social media posts will be a headache for Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin.

Wrong

Attention has been drawn to the historical tweets on social media over the weekend and Ms Clifford-Lee last night apologised for any offence caused by the posts and admitted they were wrong.

In July 2011, she tweeted: "Just doing up inventory of items in my car when it was stolen by some knacker. I think I'm going to cry."

In June the same year, she had responded to a tweet about fashion, which is now no longer available, with: "I think some pieces are cute but others look like something from a traveller wedding."

In October 2011, Ms Clifford-Lee tweeted: "Was on Dublin Bus for the first time in about a year yesterday. Forgotten how much fun it is. Black Brazilian dwarf with ginger hair sat beside me."

Then in June 2012 she wrote "Fat arse Kardashian is in Dublin apparently with her fella."

Ms Clifford-Lee is the Fianna Fail Seanad spokesperson on Justice and Equality, as well as Children and Youth Affairs.

Her Twitter biography describes her as a solicitor, mother and feminist.

Asked by the Herald for a comment on her controversial tweets, Ms Clifford-Lee issued a statement.

She said the tweets referred to are from as far back as 2011 and were posted long before she became involved in electoral politics.

"I want to be absolutely clear, the tweets were wrong and I apologise for any hurt or offence caused by them," Ms Clifford-Lee said.

"While it does suit some people to take my tweets out of context for their own right-wing agenda, I hope that the people of Dublin Fingal will not be distracted by personal smear campaigns such as this.

"Anyone who has worked with me since my election to the Seanad three years ago can confirm the role I have played in promoting progressive policies.

"I also actively supported the marriage equality referendum and the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment," added Ms Clifford-Lee.

She said she wants the by-election campaign to focus on "the very real issues that people face every day".

Triggered

Ms Clifford-Lee listed these as solutions to transport, housing, health, childcare, climate change and protecting communities from crime.

She was elected to the Seanad in 2016 following an unsuccessful bid for a Dail seat in the same constituency in that year's general election.

Ms Clifford-Lee got more than 3,300 first preference votes in 2016.

Fianna Fail has high hopes she will join Dublin Fingal party colleague Darragh O'Brien in the Dail in this month's election.

The by-election was triggered by former Independents4Change TD Clare Daly winning a European Parliament seat in May.

There is also a by-election in Dublin Mid-West caused by former tanaiste Frances Fitzgerald becoming an MEP in the same election.

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