A Sinn Fein MP has defended shouting "up the 'Ra" during his Irish election victory speech. 

David Cullinane, the party's Brexit spokesman, said the comment to supporters happened in "the excitement of the night".

He called getting elected on Sunday a "very emotional day" but insisted the comment was about the past - not the future.

A clip of his comments was posted on social media on Monday, after Sinn Fein's breakthrough election performance saw them win the most first-preference votes in Ireland's general election.

"Up the Republic, Up the Ra and Tiocfaidh ár Lá," he shouted according to the Irish Times, referencing a slogan usually used to support the Irish Republican Army (IRA) and a united Ireland.

Afterwards, he admitted: "Obviously we were very excited and very proud of the vote we got in Waterford.

Sinn F??in's president Mary Lou McDonald addresses the media in Dublin, as Sinn F??in's David Cullinane looks on.
Image: Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said of her MPs: 'I'm not their mammy'

"The 30-second clip was part of a broader and longer speech that I gave where I was reflecting back on the hunger strikes, reflecting back on the fact that [IRA hunger striker] Kevin Lynch stood in the Waterford constituency back in 1981.

"He was someone that inspired me and inspired many republicans, the comments were made in that context.

"I know some people will think the comments were about the here and the now and the future, they weren't.

"It was reflecting back on that time in Irish history that I'm proud of and those hunger strikers and it was I suppose part of the excitement of the night when we were celebrating that victory.

"My comments were about the past, they were not about the future, the IRA is gone as everybody knows."

Mr Cullinane added: "I don't feel I have to apologise for reflecting back on that time period...

"I certainly don't set out to offend anyone, that's not my style.

"I'm very proud of that republican legacy."

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald said: "I've asked everybody not to be making throwaway comments or comments that can be misconstrued or distract us from the work ahead and I know that certainly that's what happened in David's case."

Asked whether she has appealed to Sinn Fein TDs not to make any "throwaway comments", Mrs McDonald added: "I'm not their mammy and I don't censor them either.

"We're all adults and I do expect people to behave in an adult way and to cooperate with their dear leader and not to create distractions."

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