Gerry Adams, an Irish politician and leader of the Sinn Fein political party, caused an uproar Sunday after he posted multiple racial slurs on his Twitter account.
Adams was watching the Quentin Tarantino film Django Unchained, which details the struggle of an American slave to gain his freedom, at the time he tweeted the slurs. He used the movie to compare the treatment of slaves to that of Irish nationalists in a Catholic area of Belfast.
"Watching Django Unchained -- A Ballymurphy Nigger!" Adams said in the tweet, which has since been deleted.
"Django -- an uppity Fenian!" he said in a subsequent tweet, which was also deleted.
Ballymurphy is a Catholic neighborhood in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It is best known as the site where British soldiers killed Irish civilians in August of 1971 during what is known as the “Troubles” in Northern Ireland – violence that stretched out over more than three decades and took the lives of around 3,500 people.
Adams was a leader in the Irish Republican movement, which was feuding with the British government.
Despite Adams’s attempt to delete the tweet, it had already been seen and shared by many people, and political opponents were quick to condemn him for it.
"So this is acceptable is it?" asked Peter O'Brien, a Labour Party councilor in Ireland.
Another Labour councilor, Deirdre Kingston, posted a screenshot of Adams’s deleted tweet with the caption, “The Real Gerry Adams.”
Following the uproar, Adams said his use of the “N-word” was meant to be ironic, and that anyone who saw the movie should understand that. He also said he has been opposed to racism for his whole life.
“Attempts to suggest that I am a racist are without credibility ... 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,” he said in a statement.
“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.”
On Thursday, the Northern Ireland Assembly will hold elections, and opinion polls indicate the Sinn Fein party is expected to win about a quarter of the votes.