Wednesday 16 January 2019

Gerry Adams: ‘I’ve never seen myself as white’

Sinn Féin president said he lives 'a wee bit on the edge on Twitter'

Gerry Adams
Gerry Adams
'In Sinn Féin they do things rather differently, especially when it comes to Adams'

Kevin Doyle Group Political Editor

Gerry Adams has denied being a racist, saying: “I’ve never seen myself as white.”

The Sinn Féin president has again defended himself amid a storm of controversy over his use of the N-word on Twitter, this time dragging water protests into the debate.

And Mr Adams said he intends to continue using the social media network despite the latest row.

“I live a wee bit on the edge on Twitter. I enjoy it. I know it excites some comment. Some people see some of my tweets as a bit bizarre,” he said.

“I know some people think I shouldn’t be on Twitter at all, at all. But sure in the middle of it all, despite the seriousness of the discussion we’re having, you have to have a bit of craic and be yourself every so often,” Mr Adams said.

The controversy, which has received international media coverage, comes after Mr Adams tweeted on Sunday night about watching the Quentin Tarantino movie ‘Django Unchained’.

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

Read more: 'There is a time and a place where it (the N-word) can be used,' says Ó Snodaigh as Gerry Adams row rages on

The film focuses on the brutal treatment of slaves in America in the 19th century and after an immediate online backlash the tweet was deleted and the Sinn Féin press office issued an explanation in the early hours of the morning.

However, speaking on his local radio station LMFM, Mr Adams today insisted: “I saw a parallel as I have for a long time between the plight and the struggle for African Americans and people back here at home. I tweeted about that.”

He described the film as a “very violent but very powerful movie”. He said he had been canvassing in his home district Ballymurphy ahead of this week’s Northern Assembly election and it “brought back a whole wave of memories of what happened in that locality”.

“I was trying to use it in an ironic way. I used the N-word, realised that was a mistake, deleted it and then apologised. But I stand over my main point, my substantive point which was to look at the broad parallels between what was happening in America with African American folks and what was happening in our own place,” Mr Adams said today.

Read More: 'Oh for God's sake. I was pointing out the irony of their idiocy!' - top five Irish political social media gaffes

“I didn’t use it in a racist way. If you watch the move Django, the main character, uses the term. Now that’s no excuse I shouldn’t have used it.”

However, in a sometimes rambling explanation he then went on to drag modern day politics into the debate.

He said penal laws were ended because people stood up for themselves, like Django did in the movie.

Read more: Gerry Adams's bizarre and creepy Tweets raise questions for Sinn Féin

“People of my own home district, Ballymurphy, have stood up for themselves. And people in Louth whether it’s water protesters, not trying to compare like with like, or demanding health services, or fighting for the hospital to be returned to Dundalk or better services in Drogheda, people standing up for themselves or their neighbours.

“And while they may not be like with like because if you’re being horsewhipped or hanged that’s a different matter. But in terms of the dignity of human beings.

“I’ve never seen myself as white. That’s only skin deep. I’m a human being,  We’re all human beings, whatever our skin colour, whatever our gender, whatever our ability or disability.

“The fact is we’re all human beings and we all deserve to be treated properly. And it’s all about rights and what was happening in America,” Mr Adams said.

He added: “If people want to attack me over the use of the N-word, fair enough but on all of the other issues if people want to have a debate, I’m happy to have that debate.” 

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