Fianna Fáil has said it does not have any plans to discipline its senator and by-election candidate, Lorraine Clifford-Lee, over tweets she wrote eight years ago.

A spokesperson for the party said the tweets were posted in a personal capacity before she was elected or became a member of the parliamentary party.

Fianna Fáil "does not condone these tweets and believe they were inappropriate", a spokesperson said.

"However Senator Clifford-Lee has acknowledged her mistakes, has apologised and deeply regrets them," the party added.

The party will "continue to support her as she competes for a seat in the Dáil" and believes she will be a "very effective representative," the spokesperson said.

They were responding to queries about the tweets, which emerged over the weekend in reports by the Gript media website and through a number of individual accounts on social media.

Ms Clifford-Lee, who has been a Senator since 2016, is running in the by-election for the Dublin Fingal constituency.  

Other declared candidates include Dr James Reilly, who is running for Fine Gael, Ann Graves for Sinn Féin, Duncan Smith for Labour, Joe O'Brien for the Green Party and Independent Gemma O'Doherty.

The tweets include one in July 2011 in which Ms Clifford-Lee said: "Just doing up inventory of items in my car when it was stolen by some knacker. I think I am going to cry." 

In another, dated June 2011, she described some clothes as being "like something from a traveller wedding".  

Another tweet, from October 2011, she wrote "was on #dublinbus for the 1st time in about a yr yesterday. Forgotten how much fun it is. A black Brazilian dwarf with Ginger hair sat beside me." 

In a statement, Ms Clifford-Lee has said that the tweets are from a time "long before I became involved in electoral politics" and that they were being taken out of context by individuals "to suit their own right wing agenda".

She said: "I want to be absolutely clear, the tweets were wrong and I apologise for any hurt or offence caused by them.

"Anyone who has worked with me since my election to the Seanad three years ago can confirm the role I played in promoting progressive politics. I also actively supported the marriage equality referendum and the campaign to repeal the Eighth Amendment.

"While it does suit some people to take my tweets out of context for their own right-wing agenda, I hope that people of Dublin Fingal will not be distracted by personal smear campaigns such as this." 

A Fianna Fáil spokesperson said Ms Clifford-Lee has "supported many progressive policies" since being elected to the Seanad three years ago and has "fully supported and conformed with the party's policies on inclusiveness and equality".

She will remain the party's Seanad spokesperson on Justice, Equality and Children.