Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Nike panned over 'Black and Tan' sneaker launch for St Patrick's Day

Nike's new SB Black and Tan Quickstrike trainers have been criticised
Nike has also released some Guinnesss-inspired trainers
Ben & Jerry's were criticised in 2006 when they released 'Black and Tan' ice cream

Nike, the global footwear giant, has been slated ahead of worldwide St Patrick's Day celebrations fior launching a 'Black and Tan' sneaker.

The 'Nike SB Black and Tan Quickstrike' is named after the drink made by mixing stout and lager - usually Guinness and Harp or Bass - in a pint glass.

An advert for the trainer says: 'Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike. The Black and Tan sneaker takes inspiration for the fine balancing act of a Stout (Guinness) on top a Pale Ale (Harp) in a pint glass.'

However, critics have highlighted the historical connotations of 'Black and Tan' and the term's connection to the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force from the 1920s who became notorious for their attacks on Irish civilians during the War of Independence.

Historians claim that 'the Tans' killed and destroyed on a large scale, and recorded that when a Tan was killed in Cork, they burnt down more than 300 buildings.

The Catholic cardinal of the day called them 'a horde of savages, some of them simply brigands, burglars and thieves'.

They were created after the First World War by Winston Churchill, faced with a increasing tide of violence from the IRA which had launched a campaign to drive Britain out of Ireland.

Lt Col Smyth, one of their leading commanders, is often quoted to sum up the orders they were given and the reason behind their behaviour.



He said, in June 1920: 'If a police barracks is burned or if the barracks already occupied is not suitable, then the best house in the locality is to be commandeered, the occupants thrown into the gutter. Let them die there - the more the merrier.

'Should the order (Hands Up) not be immediately obeyed, shoot and shoot with effect. If the persons approaching (a patrol) carry their hands in their pockets, or are in any way suspicious-looking, shoot them down.

'You may make mistakes occasionally and innocent persons may be shot, but that cannot be helped, and you are bound to get the right parties some time.

'The more you shoot, the better I will like you, and I assure you no policeman will get into trouble for shooting any man.'

The footwear has been launched as part of a series of beer-inspired trainers, including the Nike SB Dunk High 'Guinness' which are coloured black like the famous stout.

Both the Black and Tan and Guinness trainers are expected to retail at around $90.

The row over Nike's new sneakers follows a similar incident in 2006 when ice-cream giants Ben & Jerry's released a 'Black and Tan' flavour. The company apologised and the ice-cream was only made available in the US.

According to the Irish Times it is not clear if Nike is officially calling these two new sneakers “Guinness” and “Black and Tan” - no one from Nike was available to comment - but they are being advertised with the Guinness and Black and Tan names at online shops and will go on sale this weekend to buyers.

Ciaran Staunton, President of the US-based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, stated that the Nike move left him speechless.

“Is there no one at Nike able to google Black and Tan,” he asked.

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