Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams apologises for using N-word on Twitter

Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams speaking to the press yesterday following the 'N-word' controversy
Sinn Féin's Gerry Adams speaking to the press yesterday following the 'N-word' controversy

GERRY Adams has been forced to apologise for using the 'N-word' in a reference to a Quentin Tarantino film about black slavery in America.

He admitted his post on Twitter was inappropriate, but defended his comparison of the treatment of Irish nationalists to African Americans.

"I apologise for any offence caused," the Sinn Féin leader said yesterday.

Mr Adams provoked an angry backlash online and from political opponents after tweeting late on Sunday night about Django Unchained, the Oscar-winning film about slavery in America.

The message read: "Watching Django Unchained - A Ballymurphy N*****!" He also referred to the main character as "an uppity Fenian".

Mr Adams was born in Ballymurphy, a republican heartland of west Belfast.

In a 2am statement Mr Adams dismissed his use of the N-word as "ironic" and not intended to cause any offence.

But in a hastily arranged press conference before noon outside Sinn Fein's Belfast headquarters, the Louth TD went further and apologised.

"Django Unchained is a powerful film which highlights the injustices suffered by African Americans through its main character Django," he said.

"In my tweets I described him as a 'Ballymurphy n*****' and 'an uppity Fenian'.

"I have acknowledged that the use of the N-word was inappropriate.

"That is why I deleted the tweet."

In his earlier statement, Mr Adams had defended his use of the offensive term and said anyone genuinely offended by it either misunderstood him or misrepresented the context.

"Like African Americans, Irish nationalists were denied basic rights," he said adding: "This changed because we stood up for ourselves. We need to continue to do that."

Mr Adams said he has "long been inspired by Harriet Tubman; Frederick Douglass; Rosa Parks; Martin Luther King and Malcolm X who stood up for themselves and for justice".

However, his statement was reissued for misspelling Rosa Parks. Frederick Douglass was also misspelt.

The controversy comes just weeks after he was accused of comparing himself to civil rights icon Parks when he was excluded from a St Patrick's Day celebration at the White House.

After being held up at security in Washington, he left and stated: "Sinn Féin will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone."

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said Mr Adams's "public use of a racist slur falls well below the standards demanded by us all".

"If a similar remark had been made by any other political leader on this island, Sinn Féin would have unleashed an orchestrated wave of angry condemnation," he said.

Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt described Mr Adams's comments as "beyond the pale".

He also hit out at Mr Adams claiming in his statements to be a founder of the north's civil rights movement.

"To try to liken the fight against slavery to what was happening in Northern Ireland in the 1960s is contemptible," he said.

"And then for him to claim that he was one of the founders of the civil rights movement – even Martin McGuinness must be rolling his eyes at that one.

"This is just Gerry Adams trying to re-write history."

It is not the first time an Irish political leader has been forced to apologise over the use of the N-word.

In 2002, Taoiseach Enda Kenny – then opposition leader – faced calls for his resignation when he recalled at a private function an anecdote about a Moroccan barman "with shiny teeth" in Portugal saying a cocktail called a Lumumba was named after "some n***** who died dans la guerre (in the war)".

Patrice Lumumba was the assassinated African nationalist who was the Congo's first democratically elected leader.