On RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
Fianna Fáil Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee spoke to Carole Colman about her controversial tweets from 2011.
Ms Clifford-Lee is running for a TD seat in the Fingal by-election on November 29.
During the interview, Ms Clifford-Lee said:
“What happened back then was totally inappropriate and wrong and I’m very sorry for offending people. It was many years before I was engaged in electoral politics and in no way reflects my opinion on minority issues.
“My true attitude is reflected in what I’ve done and what I have said since I’ve been in a position to influence things. For example, I robustly offended in the media the families at Cabra Bridge last year, in their dispute with Tipperary County Council.
“I supported the Traveller education bill, the granting of ethnic status to Travellers, the family reunification bill which offered extra rights to undocumented migrant families in Ireland.
“And I also supported marriage equality so I’m truly sorry for the offence that I caused. I think sometimes we say things when we don’t understand the impact of the words that we use.
“I’m meeting Martin Collins [of Pavee Point]. I’ve spoken to him on the phone, I am going to reissue that apology to him in person and I truly hope that my apology is accepted.
“It’s from the bottom of my heart and it’s very heartfelt. And I hope to engage in constructive dialogue with Martin and his colleagues.”
Asked how she felt how the matter “unfolded during the middle of her campaign, she said:
“It obviously was unexpected but, you know, as soon as it emerged, I apologised and I’ve kept apologising and I will continue to apologise because that’s all I can do. I am genuinely very, very sorry.
“It doesn’t reflect who I am. It doesn’t reflect the work that I have engaged in and I know that I have caused offence and I am truly sorry for that offence.”
Asked if she accepts that people, particularly in public life, have to be very careful about how they label other people and other groups, she said:
“Absolutely and it’s something that happened far before I was involved in electoral politics. Nevertheless I understand the impact that the words I used has had on people and I understand the offence that I have caused and I am truly, truly sorry for that offence.”
Asked how she disassociates herself from something that was her own words, she said:
“It was a long time ago and I suppose we all evolve as people and I’m, now I’m a mother, I suppose I have educated myself a lot in relation to minority issues in recent years and yu know people make mistakes and it’s the recognition of those mistakes and it’s how you act.
“And since I have been a public person, that was in a private capacity. Since I have been a public person, I have worked very, very hard in relation to minority issues.”
Asked if there any other tweets or anything on other platforms that may yet emerge, she said:
“I don’t know is a straight answer because you know obviously this was a long time ago, before I was engaged in electoral politics and I’m very, very, very sorry for things I might have said back then.”
Asked for her thoughts, in general, on the value and challenges of diversity, she said:
“Ireland is a more diverse country than we have been in the past and particularly this constituency, it’s very, very diverse. And this constituency is a very young constituency and it’s a rapidly growing constituency and there’s people coming from all over Dublin, all over Ireland and beyond to live in this constituency.
“I think it’s very important that we put the structures there in place in all our communities that we can all integrate, get to know each other and grow as communities.”
Listen back in full here
Previously: Set In Motion