Sinn Fein struggles to explain after N-word nightmare
Sinn Fein struggles to explain after N-word nightmare


Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has been forced to issue a number of apologies for the use of a racial slur word in a late night Tweet on Sunday.

Mr Adams had initially defended his use of the racist term in a tweet about Quentin Tarantino film ‘Django Unchained’ but later said it was “inappropriate”.

“Watching Django Unchained - A Ballymurphy N....r!” the tweet read, only Mr Adams used the actual word. Mr Adams has links with the Ballymurphy area of Belfast.

There was a furious reaction on social networks, with many believing his account to have been hacked.

An aggressive press release apparently issued by his party on his behalf in the early hours of Monday morning only caused further outrage when it accused people of “misrepresenting” the tweet. Mr Adams was widely criticised the next day. SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said the use of the n-word showed “a staggering deficiency in judgment.” Alliance assembly member Stewart Dickson said for the leader of a major political party to use such a term “simply beggars belief.”

Speaking at Connolly House in Belfast on Monday, the Sinn Féin leader said that although “the use of the n-word was inappropriate” he still “stands over the context and main point of my tweet about the Django which were the parallels between people in struggle.”

“Django Unchained is a powerful film which highlights the injustices suffered by African Americans through its main character Django,” he said

“In my tweets I described him as a ‘Ballymurphy n……‘ and ‘an uppity Fenian.’ I have acknowledged that the use of the n-word was inappropriate.”

In a statement, he apologised for any offence caused by the tweet but reiterated his belief that nationalists in the north “were treated in much the same way as African Americans.”

“Like African Americans Irish nationalists were denied basic rights. The penal laws, Cromwell’s regime, and partition are evidence of that”

“In our own time, like African Americans nationalists in the north, including those from Ballymurphy and west Belfast, were denied the right to vote; the right to work; the right to a home; and were subject to draconian laws.

“This changed because we stood up for ourselves. We need to continue to do that.”

The Louth TD said: “The civil rights movement here, of which I was a founding member, was inspired and based its approach on the civil rights campaign in the USA.”

But his efforts only fanned the flames of media indignation, with his claim of being a founding member of the civil rights movement coming in for further criticism. He Adams finally apologised unconditionally on Wednesday.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Mr Adams said the use of the word was “silly and stupid”.

“I had been canvassing in Ballymurphy for an hour and a half. I’m not in Ballymurphy much at present, I was meeting a lot of people I hadn’t seen in a long time, and this brought back a background of memories of what happened there,” he said.

“That evening I was babysitting. I don’t have Netflix and came up with this movie Django, which is very powerful and very violent film, and that lies the background to the tweet and the use of the N- word.

“The whole thing was to make a political point, had I left that word out whether or not the tweet have gotten any attention is another matter.”

The Louth TD said he “certainly wouldn’t do it again” and there was no excuse for the tweet.

“I was paralleling the experiences of the Irish, not just in recent times but from .. the penal days when the Irish were sold as slaves, the Cromwellian period.”

Mr Adams, who was a pallbearer at Mandela’s funeral, was asked if the South African hero would have understood the comment in the context it was used.

“I think he (Nelson Mandela) would understand, I got to know him quite well. I met him numerous times,” he said.

“The whole thing was to make a political point, It was done in a stupid and a clumsy way.

“In a funny stupid way I’m a wee bit colour blind on these issues. We’re all human beings and our skin colour or gender or ethnicity… beneath it all, we are human beings.”

Other Sinn Fein politicians sought to play down the PR crisis. Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald said the term is a “horrible and loaded” one but his apology for using it in a tweet is genuine.

The deputy leader said: “Gerry has acknowledged and apologised for the use of that term. all of you will know that Gerry, whatever your view of him is, has not got a racist instinct or a racist bone in his body.”

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