Would-be TD Lorraine Clifford-Lee has dug herself into a hole and potentially scuppered her hopes of winning a Dáil by-election seat this month after a series of highly questionable tweets has emerged from the past to bring embarrassment to her party leader Micheál Martin and the wider ranks of the party faithful.
Senator Clifford-Lee is Fianna Fáil’s justice, equality, children and youth affairs spokeswoman in the Seanad. However it’s her Twitter traffic from 2011 and 2012 that is of far greater interest to the wider public today and raise serious questions as to her suitability for a Dáil seat in Dublin Fingal in the by-election on November 29.
Ms Clifford-Lee has apologised for the tweets where she used the words “knacker” and “Traveller” in a derogatory manner. She also said Kim Kardashian had a “fat arse” and told of how a “black Brazilian dwarf with ginger hair” sat beside her on a bus.
Many of the posts from 2011 and 2012 were made before she was an elected politician. She was an active Local Area Representative for Fianna Fáil in the run-up to a failed local election bid in 2014.
While the Dáil hopeful acknowledges the tweets were wrong and has apologised, she says they were from before she was involved in electoral politics, and that they have been “taken out of context” by some people for “their own right-wing agenda” as part of a “personal smear campaign”.
It’s the use of the deeply offensive term ‘knacker’ that has seen many of her political opponents round on her today. Fianna Fáil TD for Fingal Darragh O’Brien, told RTÉ Radio: “The language used was obviously wrong and to be fair Lorraine has said the language she used was wrong and she has apologised for that.”
O’Brien wouldn’t be drawn on whether Ms Clifford-Lee should remain as a Fianna Fáil candidate in a constituency where the party is hotly-tipped to take a seat later this month.
This latest controversy comes just weeks after the vote-gate scandal for the party.
The Fianna Fáil leader acted decisively on that occasion to remove TDs Timmy Dooley and Niall Collins from frontbench duty. Fianna Fáil has yet to indicate what, if any, disciplinary action it will take against Ms Clifford-Lee.