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18.53 10 Feb 2020


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Sinn Féin TD for Waterford David Cullinane has said he would never distance himself from the IRA amid controversy over comments he made following his election.

Mr Cullinane addressed his supporters during a celebration event in the constituency yesterday.

He shouted the words 'Up the Republic, Up the Ra, Tiochfaidh ár Lá' at the end of his victory speech.

Speaking to Newstalk this evening, he has defended his comments and says he didn't mean to cause offence.

He said: "I've never distanced myself from the IRA.

"First of all I was talking about Bobby Sands, I was talking people who in my constituency stood for the H-Bloc candidates, Kevin Lynch, back in 1981.

"I'm never one that will distance myself from Sinn Féin's past, from the IRA's past, I don't agree with everything the IRA did, of course I don't.

Mr Cullinane said his comments were in relation to Kevin Lynch, a hunger striker, and refused to make any apologies.

He said: "There's obviously a lot of emotion around that period for republicans and I'm someone who would never distance myself from that period and I don't make any apologies for that.

"We had a very good election here in Waterford and the election was about the future and that's what I'm focused on.

"But I'm also a Republican and somebody who was always inspired by people like Bobby Sands and Kevin Lynch."

When asked whether it was wise to make the comments, he said he was not going to forget the past of Republicanism.

However, he said he did not mean to cause offence and that he recognises that the IRA caused a lot of hurt.

He added: "I don't think you could go into a pub anywhere in Ireland where those songs aren't sung and people can pass judgement on the history of the IRA, can pass judgement on all of that.

"It's up to the British state to commemorate their dead, it's up to Irish people to commemorate our dead; many people would commemorate the 1916 rising, for example."

Main image. File photo of David Cullinane. Credit: Brian Lawless/PA Archive/PA Images

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