Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has defended his use of a racist term in a tweet comparing the plight of slaves in the United States to the treatment of Irish nationalists.
The post on his Twitter account on Sunday night provoked an angry reaction on social media and was later deleted.
Mr Adams said his use of the n-word in relation to the film Django Unchained was ironic and not intended to offend.
He added that attempts to suggest that he is racist are “without credibility”.
His initial tweet appeared to compare the experience of the character Django in the film, played by Jamie Foxx, to the treatment of nationalists in Ballymurphy in west Belfast.
Ten people were killed in the area during a series of shootings by paratroopers in 1971.
Django Unchained is set before the American Civil War and focuses on racism, slavery, violence and murder.
Mr Adams said he is opposed to racism.
“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,” Mr Adams said.
“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.”
Belfast man and former republican prisoner Tim Brannigan, who is of mixed race and who knows Mr Adams, said he was “shocked” that he had used the term.
“Gerry and Sinn Féin won’t need me to tell them just how toxic it is and the sort of reactions it gets,” he said.
“I don’t think that you can equate what was happening in Belfast in 1965 with slavery.
“I posted about [US President Barack] Obama’s speech to the White House correspondents’ dinner, and his opening line was: ‘There are some jokes white people can’t make.’
“I think Gerry …read more
Source:: BBC UK