Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams' comments: Mike Nesbitt leads the attack on Trojan horse remark which 'will haunt him for years'
Unionists have warned that Gerry Adams's remarks over a republican "Trojan horse" approach to equality will haunt him for years.
The Sinn Fein president was last night backpedalling over controversial remarks about "breaking the b******s" which have prompted Northern Ireland's latest political crisis. Mr Adams apologised for the comments made at a public meeting in Enniskillen on Monday, but Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said irreversible damage had already been done to community relations.
Mr Nesbitt said the remarks will "haunt" Mr Adams and his Sinn Fein colleagues, despite his retraction.
"He has taken what we all politically assumed was a core value and part of the vision for the future of a new Northern Ireland, namely equality, and he has turned it into a weapon," he told the Belfast Telegraph.
"The next time a senior Sinn Fein member talks about equality the first image that springs to mind is going to be a Trojan horse. It is clear he views equality as merely a tactic.
"So what he has done is left unionism with no choice but to question the core values of Sinn Fein."
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood said Mr Adams's mask had slipped.
"It is obvious that he is under serious pressure. The consistent bravery of Mairia Cahill and the groundswell of support for her is obviously taking its toll.
"Gerry Adams said very clearly that Sinn Féin is using the principle of equality as a tactic. When he said that equality was a 'Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy' Adams revealed that Sinn Fein is not interested in promoting an equality agenda because it is the right thing to do, but rather because it can 'break' their opponents. Adams has confirmed that Sinn Fein see equality as a part of their political project."
Mr Adams's controversial remarks come just 72 hours after DUP MP Gregory Campbell insulted the Irish language community, and referred to a Sinn Fein wish list in the current talks process as "toilet paper".
Mr Campbell repeated his infamous "curry my yoghurt" insult of the Irish language on Saturday at his party conference, waving a pot of yoghurt about to laughter from his DUP colleagues, disparaging items on the Sinn Fein wish list at the ongoing talks as "toilet paper".
Mr Nesbitt said: "Between Gregory Campbell being gratuitously insulting to speakers of the Irish language and Adams basically making us question what are Sinn Fein's real values, it makes agreement at the talks much more difficult," he said.
Mr Adams yesterday apologised for his use of bad language at the meeting, which was recorded by a journalist from the Impartial Reporter, and spoke of regret about using the "Trojan horse" metaphor.
However, Mr Adams said he stood over "the main thrust" of what he said during the meeting because bigotry had to be "faced down" and challenged "in a smarter way than I did it last night".
Alliance leader David Ford last night claimed the comments of the Sinn Fein president and Mr Campbell were turning people off politics in Northern Ireland.
"Politics should be about inspiring people and encouraging them to get involved in the democratic process rather than a competition to see who can be the most offensive," he said.
"People need us to deal with the real issues, but this kind of political mudslinging simply holds us back. Next year's election will provide an opportunity for people to tell the politicians who want to take our community backwards that they have had enough."
In Greek mythology, a fruitless 10-year siege of Troy was ended by deception. The Greeks built a huge wooden horse and hid soldiers inside. They left it outside the city and sailed away. The jubilant Trojans took it inside their walls, and that night, the Greek soldiers crept out and opened the city gates. The Greeks ships had sailed back in darkness and Troy was sacked.