Sinn Féin housing spokesperson, Eoin Ó Broin, says he is standing over a tweet he posted which includes an image of a famine era eviction, which is reworked to include private security officers and gardaí.

He said the image, which is based on a 19th century painting, was designed by Dublin artist Mála Spíosarí. He posted "No words needed" above the image.

Mr Ó Broin said: "That is what happens in cases of a court ordered eviction. The tweet is intended as a criticism of Government policy, not the gardaí."

Minister for Justice Simon Harris described the tweet as "offensive, inappropriate and disrespectful to the men and women of An Garda Siochána".

He contended that the post "... shows what they [Sinn Féin] really think of the Gardaí. The mask slips."

General Secretary of the Association of Garda Sergeants & Inspectors Antoinette Cunningham said on Twitter that Mr Ó Broin's tweet was "deeply offensive".

Labour TD Aodhán Ó Ríordáin posted: "We all make mistakes on here. Easy solution - delete the tweet, apologise and we all move on. @gardainfo deserve better than this & I suspect Eoin realises that."

Fine Gael Senator Regina Doherty posted: "A new low for you Eoin."