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Adams' n-word tweet: Now his own deputy Mary Lou McDonald and equality watchdog speak out

By Noel McAdam

Published 05/05/2016

Under pressure: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams
Under pressure: Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams has come under fire from the Equality Commission over his use of the 'n-word' on social media.

The criticism is a further embarrassment for the President of Sinn Fein, which has made equality a cornerstone of its policies. The commission said leaders of political parties should show a "positive example".

It said all public representatives need to use language which is "moderate in tone and respectful". The commission also indicated it is not pursuing any action against Mr Adams, as it did against Ashers Bakery over the ongoing 'same-sex cake' controversy. In that case, the commission is supporting an individual, Gareth Lee, who took the case under anti-discrimination laws.

More: Inappropriate, ludicrous and no real apology ... is there no limit to the propagandist nonsense from Gerry Adams?

The full commission statement said: "The commission believes that public representatives need to use language that is moderate in tone and respectful, that promotes an appreciation of the diversity of our society and the principles of equality and non-discrimination. Those in leadership should show a positive example."

The statement was a response to comments made on Twitter by Mr Adams after he watched the Quentin Tarantino movie, Django Unchained, on Sunday night.

The former West Belfast MP withdrew the remarks within 20 minutes and issued several apologies over the next 48 hours.

Dublin TD Mary Lou McDonald - viewed by many as a potential successor to Mr Adams when he decides to relinquish the leadership - said his use of the "very, very loaded n-word" was wrong and an apology was necessary.

More: Gerry Adams: 'Hero Nelson Mandela would understand my use of the N-word in tweet'

"The reason why the tweet was issued was about context and parallels. He was making a political point. It was just unfortunate that the political point got lost in the fact that a particular term, a horrible term, a very loaded term, was used," she added.

Her comments came after Mr Adams told Ryan Tubridy's radio programme on RTE that he owns hundreds of rubber ducks.

At a press conference at Leinster House on the deal for a minority government struck between Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, Ms McDonald was repeatedly asked if she was embarrassed by Mr Adams' behaviour including his tweets about teddy bears some time ago.

More: BBC denies DUP claims Adams was 'let off the hook' over n-word row

"Only if you think political leaders should be solely talking hard politics all of the time. If that's you're view, fair enough," she said. "I understand that the interview with Ryan Tubridy was conversational. It was fairly light. It wasn't a heavy policy-driven interview. Obviously if he was dealing with issues around public services and health, it would not be appropriate to reference teddies and rubber ducks."

Mr Adams has explained his tweets "Watching Django Unchained - A Ballymurphy N*****!" followed by "Django -an uppity Fenian!" were drawing a comparison between the treatment of black people in the United States with the penal laws of the 19th century and discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland in the 1960s over voting, housing and jobs.

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