Gerry Adams has apologised after using offensive language at a public meeting but insisted he was not referring to unionists.
The Sinn Féin president used the term “bastards” while answering a question at a gathering in the North but said it was aimed at bigots.
He has come under fire from the Democratic and Ulster Unionists who interpreted the remark as being directed at them.
Mr Adams tweeted: “I shudn’t call bigots, racists or homophobes bastards. Mea culpa.
“But equality IS the only way 2 break them. & education & end 2 sectarianism.”
Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness has criticised the DUP after a senior member poked fun at the Irish language amid sensitive peace process legacy negotiations.
Mr Adams was apparently answering a question about his party’s relationship with its power-sharing partners during a meeting in Enniskillen.
He said he was often asked by republicans “what’s the point?” “They weren’t blaming Sinn Féin — in fact they were making the point that Sinn Féin were doing their best. But what’s the point? The point is to actually break these bastards — that’s the point. And what’s going to break them is equality. That’s what’s going to break them — equality.
“Who could be afraid of equality? Who could be afraid of treating somebody the way you want to be treated? That’s what we need to keep the focus on — that’s the Trojan horse of the entire republican strategy is to rejoin the people on the basis of equality.”
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