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Gerry Adams' Ballymurphy 'N-word' tweet makes headlines around world

The Sinn Fein president has apologised saying the word was 'inappropriate' but that he maintains the "context" of his controversial tweet.

By Claire Williamson

Published 02/05/2016

It may have been swiftly deleted - but Gerry Adams' single tweet has made headlines around the world.

The Sinn Fein president sparked an uproar on Sunday night as he took to social media after watching the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained.

The movie starring Jamie Foxx, Christoph Waltz and Leonardo Dicaprio is set before the American Civil War.

It features themes of slavery, racism and violence making heavy use of the N-word throughout with it used more than 100 times.

Gerry Adams Django Unchained 'N-word' statement response in full  

After watching the film, Mr Adams came under fire when he used the N-word in a tweet where he compared the struggle against slavery in the US to the plight of Irish nationalists.

It said: "Watching Django Unchained - A Ballymurphy N*****!"

Although it was quickly removed, it had already been screen grabbed and was being shared across the internet causing outrage and prompting accusations of racism.

Among the first news outlets to report on it immediately was the Washington Times.

Since then it has been featured on the world's media including Sky News, The Guardian, The Independent and The Telegraph.

Gerry Adams has also been trending on Twitter with thousands tweeting about the veteran politician.

Gerry Adams sent this tweet out before deleting it
Gerry Adams sent this tweet out before deleting it

A statement issued by Sinn Fein in the early hours of Monday morning said that the use of the word was "ironic" and denied racism.

Mr Adams said: “My tweets about the film Django have triggered a lot of interest.

"Anyone who has seen the film, as I did last evening, and who is familiar with the plight of nationalists in the north until recently, would know that my tweets about the film and the use of the N-word were ironic and not intended to cause any offence whatsoever.

“Attempts to suggest that I am a racist are without credibility. I am opposed to racism and have been all my life.

“The fact is that nationalists in the north, including those from Ballymurphy, were treated in much the same way as African Americans until we stood up for ourselves.

“If anyone is genuinely offended by my use of the N-word they misunderstand or misrepresent the context in which it was used. For this reason I deleted the tweets.”

A media facility was later organised on Monday morning where the Louth TD said he "acknowledged" the word was "inappropriate" and apologised for its use.

He said: "I acknowledge that my use of the N-word was inappropriate and I apologise for that. But I stand over the context and the historic parallels between what was happening in Ireland and the struggle of the people from Africa America.

"There is ample evidence in history of the parallels including the penal laws, the partition of Ireland and even in our own times like in North America, the discrimination over jobs and so on."

It's not the first time Mr Adams has evoked the language of the race debate in America. In March, he said his party would not "sit at the back of the bus for anyone" after he was denied entry to the White House for a St Patrick's celebration.

He was criticised for comparing himself to civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

REACTION:

SDLP

Party Leader Colum Eastwood said: "The Sinn Fein leader’s public use of a racist slur falls well below the standards demanded by us all. Using the language of slave owners is never appropriate and the fact Gerry Adams has yet to apologise only compounds the insult. The tweet shows a staggering deficiency in judgment and he needs to apologise unreservedly.

"For years now Sinn Féin have embarrassingly tried to portray Gerry Adams as some kind of international icon. It was only in March that Gerry Adams was comparing himself to Rosa Parks.

"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. They would not accept any talk of context or of irony. They should hold themselves to the same standard.

"No-one in Ballymurphy or any other area affected by the Troubles will accept this use of language to refer to events here."

Alliance

Chief Whip Stewart Dickson said: "For anyone to use such a term is unacceptable. But for the leader of a major political party to do so simply beggars belief. Mr Adams may have deleted his initial post but the internet never truly forgets.

“Only a few weeks ago, Sinn Fein were comparing Mr Adams in all seriousness to civil rights hero Rosa Parks. This is proof, if it were ever needed, just how delusional that viewpoint is. The attempted explanation from him is not only historically inaccurate but deeply offensive to many.

“Using terms with racist connotations in any form needs stamped out in our society."

UUP

Mike Nesbitt said: "Gerry Adams' comments are beyond the pale. I find it extraordinary that the leader of a political party can even think to utter the words that he did. In the past he has made clear that he is happy to use equality as a ‘trojan horse’ to further his own political agenda and now this. Add his denial of membership of PIRA and Gerry Adams has no credibility. Even some within his own party must realise that now.

"To try to liken the fight against slavery to what was happening in Northern Ireland in the 1960s is contemptible. 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. The Civil Rights campaigners wanted to reform Northern Ireland not destroy it. This is just Gerry Adams trying to re-write history.

"The relative silence of the rest of the Sinn Fein leadership on this issue is deafening. Their Assembly candidates need to make their positions clear."

DUP

DUP's Nelson McCausland said: "In recent years Sinn Fein have been quick to take offence at every turn. Most recently Martin McGuinness called on Teresa Villiers to step down as Secretary of State simply because she believes that the UK is better off outside the EU.

"Having compared himself to Rosa Parks only a few weeks ago Gerry Adams has now moved from the bizarre to the indefensible. That he would delete the tweet, then claim that his use of it was 'ironic' before being forced to say it was 'inappropriate' demonstrates very clearly the mess the Sinn Fein president put himself in."

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