A Belfast Jewish community leader has described as “appalling” a Sinn Féin MLA’s tweets equating the Holocaust to the Israel-Palestine conflict.
The remarks by South Down MLA Sinead Ennis are among a number of controversial Twitter posts that have resurfaced.
In 2012, Ms Ennis tweeted: “Can the monstrous holocaust suffered by the Jews only be exorcised once they visit that horror on another defenseless people?”
And the following year she said: “As it’s Holocaust Memorial Day, let’s spare a thought for the victims of the ongoing holocaust in occupied Palestine #NoLessonsLearned.”
In other old tweets Ms Ennis made derogatory comments about the Pope and used the word “gypsy” as an insult when tweeting about some sports matches.
And during the 2012 Belfast Union flag protests, she used an offensive term for Protestants.
On Wednesday Ms Ennis and two other Sinn Féin MLAs, Jemma Dolan and Emma Sheerin, issued apologies for historical tweets containing derogatory and offensive language.
The posts emerged after Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie was embroiled in controversy over old tweets he sent before he was elected in 2014.
Michael Black, chairman of the Belfast Jewish Community, described Ms Ennis’ Holocaust comments as “disgusting”.
“It is just an appalling thing to say and very hurtful to those people whose families perished in the Holocaust,” he said.
Mr Black said that “we all have sympathy for the Palestinian people” but it was “nonsense” to equate the Middle East with the Holocaust.
“Comparing the Holocaust to what’s going on in the Middle East, it just does not bear scrutiny,” he added.
TUV leader Jim Allister described Ms Ennis’ tweets about Israel as “appallingly misinformed”.
“There is no parallel between the attempt to systematically wipe out the Jewish people and the treatment of Palestinians.
“In stark contrast to the Holocaust, there is no Israeli ideology, policy or plan to persecute, expel or exterminate the Palestinian population.
“To link the two is not only appallingly misinformed but grossly offensive when one considers the millions of Hitler sent to the gas chambers.”
Sinn Féin did not respond to requests for comment on Ms Ennis’ tweets on the holocaust.
However earlier Sinn Féin vice president Michelle O’Neill said historical tweets posted by Ms Ennis, Ms Dolan and Ms Sheerin were “not acceptable”.
The Deputy Prime Minister was responding to tweets unearthed by the BBC’s Nolan Show from before they were MLAs.
“The comments are wrong, they are offensive and they are not acceptable language for any Sinn Féin representative to use,” she said.
“I have spoken directly with each of the MLAs and made this very clear to them.
“They have each told me they deeply regret the language used and will apologize.”
Shortly afterwards all three MLAs posted apologies on Twitter.
Mid Ulster MLA Ms Sheerin said: “I am deeply sorry that I used offensive terminology on social media.
“It was and is totally unacceptable.
“It is not how I would express myself today and I unreservedly apologize for the offense that these comments have caused.”
Soon after South Tyrone MLA Ms Dolan posted: “I want to apologize and say that I regret and am very sorry for the offense caused by comments I made historically on social media.
“These comments were unacceptable and do not represent in any way how I would now express myself.”
Within minutes, Ms Ennis tweeted: “I deeply regret the offensive comments I made on social media.
“I am sorry for using language which I accept was totally inappropriate and wrong. I apologize unreservedly for the offense caused.”