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"I haven't got a racist bone in my body" - Adams apologises for n-word tweet

In an earlier statement Sinn Féin president said the tweet was “ironic” and not intended to cause offence.

Updated at 1.55pm

GERRY ADAMS HAS apologised for any offence he may have caused by his use of the n-word in a tweet.

Speaking today at Connolly House in Belfast, Adams admitted that the use of the word was “inappropriate” and apologised for any offence caused.

I have acknowledged that the use of the n-word was inappropriate.

“That is why I deleted the tweet. I apologise for any offence caused.”

The Sinn Féin leader sent the tweet last night after watching the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained.

The tweet compared the struggle against slavery in the US to the struggle of Irish nationalists, and made use of the n-word while making this comparison.

It was removed quickly, but not before it provoked anger on social media.

Speaking on RTÉ 1 this afternoon Adams said, “I made the mistake of using the n-word. I was very moved by the film, it’s a very powerful movie.

My mistake was to use the n-word and I apologise for that. However, I do stand over the main point which was about parallels between people in struggles … by using the n-word I distracted attention away from that.

When it was put to him that it was unacceptable, Adams said, “I have apologised, I deleted the tweet quite soon afterwards. After a mistake the best thing you can do is own up to it and apologise, that’s what I have done.”

Parallels 

The Sinn Féin president was adamant that there are parallels between the struggle of Irish Nationalists and people enslaved  in America, saying ”50,000 Irish men and women were shipped as slaves to Barbados between 1652 and 1659.

“The penal laws were cruel in terms of dispossessing Irish people and treating us as sub human. Cromwell’s regime and even in today’s terms – even the existence of partition are all evidence in the parallels between people in struggle.”

However, Irish historian and expert in slavery Liam Hogan rejected Adams’ claim saying the figure of 50,000 was wrong and that the most credible estimates were 10,000 at most:

Furthermore they were sold as indentured servants, not racialised perpetual hereditary chattel slaves. This was similar and brutal but not the same. So even though he has trawled back to the 1650s to justify his tweet, his analogy does not fit.

Hogan told TheJournal.ie, “The exploitation and dehumanisation of African people by Europeans in the Americas has no analogy in Irish history and this fact should be respected.”

Adams continued, “I know many people of colour, I work with many people of colour in this country and I have many friends in the US who are people of colour, right across the world in England and Europe and Africa … and they know they were colonised the same as us and the colonial power used the same methods to prosecute its campaigns and its hold and its denial of very basic rights.”

‘Back of the bus’

Earlier this year the Sinn Féin president was criticised for a remark which appeared to compare his party with US civil rights figure Rosa Parks after he was delayed by security personnel at the White House.

Speaking after the incident, Adams said the party would not “sit at the back of the bus”.

When asked by RTÉ’s Aine Lawlor how he thinks his latest tweet will impact on Sinn Féin’s fundraising efforts in the US, the party leader said:

People who raise funds for us and who work with us, know us and know me … everybody knows that I haven’t got a racist bone in my body and I continue to work with oppressed people and will continue to do so.

“The vast majority of people will see this as a genuine mistake, the use of one word which was totally inappropriate and which I have apologised for. The parallels are there and are recognised by people of colour wherever they’re educated.”

“Ironic”

Earlier, in a statement the Sinn Féin president said the tweet was “ironic”.

“Attempts to suggest that I am a racist are without credibility. I am opposed to racism and have been all my life.

The fact is that nationalists in the north, including those from Ballymurphy, were treated in much the same way as African Americans until we stood up for ourselves.

He added then that “if anyone is genuinely offended by my use of the N-word they misunderstand or misrepresent the context in which it was used. For this reason I deleted the tweets.”

-With reporting from Cormac Fitzgerald

Read: Adams defends “back of the bus” remark after White House mix-up>

Read: Two men killed in early morning house fire>

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