Tuesday 6 December 2016

Gerry Adams: 'Hero Nelson Mandela would understand my use of the N-word'

Geraldine Gittens

Published 04/05/2016 | 10:17

Nelson Mandela helped the Northern peace process, speaking with both sides, including Gerry Adams
Nelson Mandela helped the Northern peace process, speaking with both sides, including Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said he believes the late South African President Nelson Mandela would be understanding of his use of the N-word earlier this week.

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Adams, who was a pallbearer at Mandela’s funeral in 2013, apologised for his tweet which featured the offensive word, and admitted he was “stupidly and inappropriately” trying to make a political point.

Adams was applauded warmly at Mandela's funeral when his name was read to the assembled guests. Adams has also referred to Mandela as his hero.

Mr Adams told RTE’s Ryan Tubridy today: “I think he (Nelson Mandela) would understand, I got to know him quite well, I met him numerous times and I had numerous conversations with him.”

“He was loyal… He argued for peace, he argued for talks… he never wavered on any of those issues.”

Mr Adams said if he could turn the clock back, he wouldn’t send the tweet. He admitted that he had a glass of wine with dinner before tweeting the N-word but he said he was sober.

He tweeted “Watching Django Unchained – A Ballymurphy N*****!”, before referring to the main character as “an uppity Fenian”.

Today he explained: “I took a glass with my dinner when I tweeted it. I was as sober as could be.”

“Unconditionally it was wrong,” he said.

“I was making a political point quite stupidly and inappropriately.”

“I tapped it in just towards the end of the film (Django Unchained), the film wasn’t quite over, the word is used at least 100 times in the film.”

“No I certainly wouldn’t do it [again]… I was very moved by the film so I probably would have tweeted something about the film… factored in my experience that day.”

“There’s no excuse for it and it was silly and stupid,” he added.

Mr Adams explained he was trying to draw “parallels in the similarities of the experiences of the African Americans and the Irish”.

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

He added: “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.”

With elections looming, politicians from across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland were quick to criticise the use of the racial slur.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said he found it "absolutely bizarre" Mr Adams would put out a tweet "with such racist language in it".

Nelson McCausland of the DUP said: "The comment is absolutely horrendous, not only in terms of the language by using the N-word, but also in that it shows what he really thinks of Northern Ireland."

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