Belfast Telegraph

Gerry Adams N-word tweet: Silence is deafening from the army of 'Shinnerbots'

By Kevin Doyle

The most striking feature of the Gerry Adams' n-word controversy over the last few days is not the fact that the Sinn Fein leader kept digging - it's that his army of online militants fell silent.

The 'Shinnerbots', as they are commonly known, are well organised, nasty in the extreme and often twisted in their views.

They have no room for facts or old-fashioned analysis of the situation.

Instead, they attack based on instinct. Any criticism of the party or its leader leaves a commentator open to vitriolic and incessant abuse on Twitter.

So it came as no surprise when in the immediate aftermath of the Django tweet, the Shinnerbots rushed out to insist that Mr Adams' account was hacked.

There was no way that he could possibly have thought, never mind tweeted, something so obviously ignorant and ill-judged.

In fairness to Mr Adams, he was quick to issue a statement admitting some fault, even if he does continue to claim the context of the tweet was legitimate. Then came the silence. Not a peep from keyboard warriors who seem to sit around all day waiting for a simple typo or a mundane observation to seize upon.

There was no grand defence of Mr Adams, but neither was there any condemnation.

If this was the leader of any other party, senior colleagues and grassroot members would be quick to distance themselves from his statement, but that's not the Sinn Fein way.

Its online followers condemn all around them but never their own - no matter what the context. Most people accept, and I think rightly so, that Mr Adams is guilty of many things, but not of being racist.

It is strange that of all the hot water Mr Adams has landed himself in over the years, this was the incident his supporters chose not to back him on. The Shinnerbots, who are not necessarily party members, will find their keyboards again, but 48 hours of silence tell their own story.

Kevin Doyle is group political editor of Independent Newspapers

Belfast Telegraph


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