August 4, 2021

EXCLUSIVE: Senator at centre of racist tweets storm tried to get co-opted onto Waterford Council before she published comments

The Fianna Fáil Senator at the centre of the “pikey”, “black” and “Brazilian knacker” twitter storm tried to get co-opted onto Waterford County Council in 2008, despite claiming her controversial tweets were made before she “become involved in electoral politics”.

Lorraine Clifford-Lee, who is running in the Dublin Fingal by-election, grew up in Waterford and lived on the High Road in Kilmeaden.

This week Senator Clifford Lee found herself at the centre of a controversy for using terms such as “pikey”, “knacker” and “traveller” in a derogatory way on historic tweets.

In a statement released this week, Senator Clifford-Lee stated: “The tweets referred to are from as far back as 2011 and were tweeted long before I became involved in electoral politics.”

Fianna Fáil have backed their embattled Senator, saying the comments were her own and were made before she was a Senator.

However, has learned Senator Clifford-Lee was involved in electoral politics in Waterford long before her controversial tweets were published.

Following the tragic death of Cllr Pat Leahy in December 2007, Ms Clifford-Lee unsuccessfully campaigned to be co-opted onto Waterford County Council. Fianna Fáil instead chose the late councillor’s daughter, Elaine Leahy.

In 2009, she also campaigned unsuccessfully to be added to the party ticket for the local elections. Instead, the party selected John O’Leary, who was returned in the Comeragh District.

Senator Clifford-Lee was also a member of Fianna Fáil’s National Executive back in 2004 at the time of Beverly Cooper-Flynn’s expulsion from the party. Ms Clifford-Lee was interviewed on the plinth outside Leinster House on the day Ms Cooper-Flynn was expelled.

She said at the time: “On a personal level you can’t but feel sorry for the woman. But we kind of have to go beyond that and see what’s best for the party and what is the best decision for us to make.”

Senator Clifford-Lee’s political focus then switched to Dublin, but she failed to get elected in the 2014 local elections for the Pembroke South Dock district and in the 2016 General Election after standing in the Dublin Fingal constituency.

Earlier this year, she was chosen by Fianna Fáil to run in the Dublin Fingal by-election, the seat left vacant by Clare Daly, who won a seat at the European elections.

Over the past week controversial tweets have emerged from the Senator’s personal Twitter account. Senator Clifford-Lee has since removed all previous tweets from her Twitter profile.

A spokesperson for Fianna Fáil said: “Senator Lorraine Clifford-Lee wrote these tweets in a personal capacity many years ago. It was before she was elected or became a member of the parliamentary party. It is Party policy for some time that each member is responsible for their own tweets. The Fianna Fáil Party does not condone these tweets and believe they were inappropriate.”

Fianna Fáil did not respond to queries about Senator Clifford-Lee’s involvement in Waterford electoral politics at the time of publication.

Attempts to contact Senator Clifford-Lee today were also unsuccessful.


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