Hysterical response to Presidential gaffe

Unionist outrage over a lack of balance in a comment on sectarianism by the 26-County President, Mary McAleese, has prompted an apology.

Mrs McAleese’s use of sectarianism against Catholics as an example of hate in Ireland, without including a reference to sectarianism against Protestants, was seized upon Ian Paisley Jr and other unionist leaders.

In a radio interview on Thursday morning regarding the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp, Mrs McAleese said the Nazis had given “to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred, for example, of Catholics, in the same way that people give to their children an outrageous and irrational hatred of those who are of different colour and all of those things”.

Mr Paisley Jnr of the DUP accused her of “spewing out hatred of the Protestant community”.

“Her comments are completely irrational and are designed to insult the integrity of the Protestant community and damn an entire generation of Protestant people,” he said.

Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey said the comment showed “a total lack of understanding and sympathy”. The anti-Catholic Orange Order marching organisation said it would refuse to travel to Dublin to meet the President following the remark.

Sinn Féin president Mr Gerry Adams said the DUP response to the President’s original remarks was “well over the top”.

“The fact is there is sectarianism in the North. It is a sectarian state: those who proclaim a ‘Protestant parliament for a Protestant people’; those who discriminated against people on the basis of their religion,” he said. “I don’t want to draw any comparison with the Nazis or anyone else but certainly there was a system of apartheid.

“One of the great difficulties is that . . . political unionism has yet to accept any responsibility for the conflict in Ireland, not least the conflict of the last 30 years. And until they do that you are always going to get this denial, and unfortunately the DUP is a party in denial.”

However, the President said she was “desperately sorry” for the hurt caused.

Speaking from England, the President said: “What I said I undoubtedly said clumsily. I should have finished out the example and it would have been a much better interview had I done that. That was certainly my intention. It was never my intention going into it simply to blame one side of the community in Northern Ireland.”

The Orange Order said it is to reconsider its decision not to travel to Dublin to meet the President in the wake of her apology.

* Ian Paisley jnr has described homosexual relationships as “immoral, offensive and obnoxious”.

Mr Paisley made his comments after Ulster Unionist leader Mr David Trimble’s senior adviser, Dr Steven King, married his gay partner four weeks ago in Canada.

Mr Paisley said it was wrong to infer from what he said that gays ought not to be employed or that he he hated them. “I do not hate gay people,” he said.

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