Gerry Adams apologises for using 'n****r' in tweet about movie Django Unchained
Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams was at the centre of an international storm over the use of a racist slur on social media.
Mr Adams' apparent use of the word "n****r" drew condemnation from both side of the Atlantic.
Mr Adams has apologised to reporters for using the N-word in a tweet about film Django Unchained in which he compared the struggle against slavery in the US to the plight of Irish nationalists.
"I stand over the context and the substance of the point I was making which is the parallel between the plight of people here in Ireland and the struggle of people of African-American extraction," he said.
Earlier today, the Sinn Fein president defended his use of the word, saying he had either been misunderstood by those who had taken offence at his use of the term, or they were misrepresenting the post.
The offending tweet about the Oscar-winning Quentin Tarantino film appeared on his profile late on Sunday night.
It said: "Watching Django Unchained - A Ballymurphy N*****!" Although the tweet was removed swiftly it provoked a furious reaction.
The republican later issued a statement in which he said attempts to suggest he was a racist were "without credibility".
He said: "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.
"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."
Mr Adams said that anyone who had seen the film, which stars Jamie Foxx as the emancipated protagonist, Django, and Christoph Waltz as his ally, and was familiar with the plight of nationalists in the north until recently "would understand the tweet was not meant to insult".
"My tweets about the film and the use of the N-word were ironic and not intended to cause any offence whatsoever," he said.
This morning former Labour Party Senator Máiría Cahill criticised Gerry Adams explanation of the tweet.
"My family is from Ballymurphy.There is no comparison with people taken into slavery and there."
The controversy began when the Sinn Féin president put the racist phrase on his Twitter account. He quickly deleted the derogatory word after he received a backlash from users of the social media website.
But in the intervening period, the comment was picked up by international news outlets.
In the US, 'The Washington Times' reported: "The longtime leader of the Irish Republican Army's political wing used the most toxic of all racial slurs Sunday night."
The newspaper quoted Michael Brendan Dougherty, an Irish-American columnist, who wrote: "Gerry Adams survived the RUC, the UVF, and British intelligence. This tweet he may not."
At 11.27 last night, the Sinn Fein leader tweeted: "Watching Django Unchained - A Ballymurphy N*****r". He added: "Django - an uppity Fenian!" He removed the tweets within minutes.
Mr Adams later tweeted: "Time 4 leaba. Oichey oichey", but offered no explanation for his use of the word.
Last night Ms Cahill said: "There is something wrong with him. I've said it before, and still he never fails to reinforce the point."
She added later: "Four days before an election. Leader of a party tweets that tweet. If the media don't bounce all over Sinn Féin they're not wise."
'Django Unchained' is an extremely violent Quentin Tarantino movie following the plight of a black slave who is seeking to free his wife.
Ballymurphy is an area of Belfast. The so-called Ballymurphy massacre refers to the deaths of 11 people allegedly killed by the British Army in 1971.
Mr Adams is a frequent visitor to the US, where he lobbies politically and attends Sinn Féin fundraising events.
Mr Adams's comment came less than two months after he caused controversy here and in America when he compared himself to American Civil Rights campaigner Rosa Parks after he was excluded from the White House by security personnel when he was forced to wait 90 minutes to attend a St Patrick's Day event.
Security staff kept him waiting while they quizzed his documents, prompting him to leave.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny was caught up in a racism controversy almost 15 years ago when he used the so-called 'N-word' in an anecdote about about a murdered African liberation hero. Mr Kenny was forced to make an apology for the joke about Patrice Lumumba.