Sinn Féin TDs say Adams far from racist, but language ‘regrettable’

Party leader had not used the word in a derogatory manner but in irony

Django Unchained: depicted the treatment of black people in America during a tragic period in US history

Django Unchained: depicted the treatment of black people in America during a tragic period in US history

 

Sinn Féin TDs have defended party leader Gerry Adams in the controversy over his tweet using a racist word, but acknowledged that his use of language was inappropriate.

Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe said he believed the controversy was “blown out of proportion in relation to the context of his remarks”. He added that “on reflection, it was the wrong word to use” but these things happened on Twitter.

Asked if he thought Mr Adams was a bit too casual when using Twitter, Mr Crowe said, “maybe it’s the thin air up in Louth” but it was “regrettable that word was used”. He believed people would look at it in the proper context, “people being treated as second-class citizens in their own land”.

Limerick city TD Maurice Quinlivan said: “I understand what he was saying about the horrific treatment of people.” He added: “It is not a word I would ever use. But Gerry acknowledged it was inappropriate and apologised” and that he was not racist.

US relations

Mr Quinlivan did not think it would have an impact on the party’s relationship with the US, which is significant for both funding and political support.

The new TD said, “I think anybody would know he is Ireland’s best internationalist”, that he had carried South African hero Nelson Mandela’s coffin and was supported by the Rev Jesse Jackson in the US. Mr Adams was constantly in touch with international groups, had campaigned against apartheid and racism and “anyone who suggests otherwise is twisting the context of his remarks”.

Sinn Féin Sligo-Leitrim TD Martin Kenny said Mr Adams had not used the word in a derogatory manner but in irony.

He had not seen the film Django Unchained but understood it depicted the treatment of black people in America during a tragic period in US history. Mr Kenny said “the use of the word was inappropriate” but “if it draws attention to the reality of discrimination and the inequality that exists in our world, it would be no harm”. A Fine Gael spokesman said Mr Adams showed a “staggering lack of judgment and sensitivity. His apology is welcome but his flippant use of such emotive and unacceptable language shows that the Sinn Féin leader is becoming increasingly out of touch.”