Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has been criticized for using a derogatory term for people of color within a tweet last night.
Since deleted, the tweet, which contained an uncensored version of the racial epithet read,
"Watching Django Unchained -- A Ballymurphy N----r!" He has since claimed that he was comparing the plight of slaves in the United States to that of Irish nationalists.
“Django Unchained” refers to the 2012 Quentin Tarantino movie in which a free slave (Jamie Foxx) attempts to rescue his wife from a plantation. Ballymurphy is an area of Belfast where British soldiers murdered civilians in 1971, an event known as the Ballymurphy massacre.
Removing the tweet amid intense criticism, Adams has claimed that he does not “have a racist bone in his body” and released a statement Monday morning apologizing for “any offense caused.”
He continued, however, to argue that if "anyone is genuinely offended by my use of the N-word they misunderstand or misrepresent the context in which it was used."
The Sinn Féin President claimed initially that he used the word “ironically” and that "Nationalists in (Northern Ireland) were treated like African Americans."
The official statement read: "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."
When speaking at a Friends of Sinn Féin 1916 centenary event in New York last week, the Louth TD also spoke about race but contrary to the racist tones shown in last night’s tweet, he spoke of the need to ensure that race does not create barriers for citizens of Northern Ireland.
Adams’ explanation left many wanting more, however, with some asking for an apology instead of an attempt at justification.
"For anyone to use such a term is unacceptable," said Stewart Dickson, chief whip of Northern Ireland's Alliance Party.
"The attempted explanation from him is not only historically inaccurate but deeply offensive to many."
Any1 who saw Django would know my tweets&N-word were ironic.Nationalists in Nth were treated like African Americans.— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) May 2, 2016
Adams has since released a further statement in which he apologized but still argued that parallels could be drawn between Irish nationalists and African-American slaves.
"I have acknowledged that the use of the n-word was inappropriate,” he said.
"That is why I deleted the tweet. I apologise for any offence caused. I stand over the context and main point of my tweet about the Django which were the parallels between people in struggle.
"Like African-Americans, Irish nationalists were denied basic rights," he continued.
"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. I have long been inspired by Harriet Tubman; Frederick Douglas; Rosa Parks; Martin Luther King and Malcolm X who stood up for themselves and for justice."
Earlier this year, Adams was also criticized for his understanding of the race struggle in America when he compared himself to Rosa Parks after not being allowed entry into the White House’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration.
The Sinn Féin leader suggested that he would stand up to those who were discriminating against Irish nationalists by delaying in letting him into the exclusive event in the same way that Parks refused to give up her seat and move to the back of the bus because of her race. Critics felt that it was insulting to compare his own situation to that of Parks.
The Irish politician is known for his unusual Twitter habits often quoting nursery rhymes, pictures of his teddy bear and a rubber duck, amidst his political statements.
A book was recently released of his best tweets and selfies and he has previously mentioned attempts by others in Sinn Féin to restrict his Twitter activity.
Gerry Adams tweet was stupid and he used a highly poor choice of words, but he is far from a racist. Liberal types attacking him are clowns— Caolán Doherty (@CaolanDoherty) May 2, 2016
By suggesting that US Black suffering is comparable to that of of Irish people in the 20th century, Gerry Adams is helping a racist agenda.— J. Guevara (@BocktheRobber) May 2, 2016
Gerry Adams, Conor McGregor and yer da, sitting in the pub, convincing each other that the Irish were the "blacks of Europe".— Joey Kavanagh (@JoeyKavanagh_) May 2, 2016
While there are parallels between people in struggle, the tweet was inappropriate" - Gerry Adams https://t.co/0kEyhj9FZd— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) May 2, 2016