Labour Senator apologises for Twitter comments

A Labour Party Senator in Donegal has issued an apology for comments made on Twitter amid controversy over his contribution to a newspaper story.

Senator Jimmy Harte found himself the target of criticism on the social media site following comments quoted in an Irish Independent story published yesterday, concerning an account of the life of a Polish woman on welfare benefits in Donegal.

The Independent report on 36-year-old 'Magda' drew upon a piece originally published last Sunday in a Polish daily.

However it came under fire for what were described as 'inaccuracies' in translation by Poland's Ambassador to Ireland Marcin Nowat. The newspaper today admitted that "some parts of the original interview, on which the story was based, were inaccurately translated".

Comments from Senator Harte had been included in the Independent story, with the Senator reported to have offered to pay for her (Magda's) flight back to Poland.

In heated exchanges with Twitter users last night Senator Harte appeared to lose his cool with some of his critics, accusing some of 'anti-Donegal bias', among other derogatory comments.

The comments from @Jimmy Harte were subsequently deleted, but not before a number of Twitter users captured screen grabs.

Today Senator Harte issued an apology for the exchanges.

"I wish to apologise for comments I made on Twitter last night following the Irish Independent article on a Polish resident in Donegal," the Senator said in a statement.

"The comments were made in the heat of the moment and went well beyond an acceptable level of online interaction.

"I accept full responsibility for what I said, and fully withdraw my remarks. I unreservedly apologise for any offence they may have caused."

Meanwhile Socialist Party TDs Joe Higgins and Clare Daly today criticised the newspaper article saying it amounted to "incitement to hatred".

"The level of inaccuracy cannot be put down to a careless mistranslation but rather it amounts to an attack on foreign national workers, which, as the Polish Ambassador alluded to yesterday, is an ugly feature of history in times of economic recession," Deputy Daly said in a statement.

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