While Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has defended using a racist word for a black person in a tweet, his judgement must be called into question.
As leader of a political party, he has a duty to guard against making gratuitously offensive references.
Whether he likes it or not, his Sunday night use of the six-letter N-word is the kind of word that is synonymous with the attitude towards black people in America’s deep south. Whether used unwittingly or not, it a deeply offensive term.
It is simply not good enough to tell his followers on the social media platform Twitter that he was watching a Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained, comparing the struggle against slavery in the US to the struggle by Irish nationalists.
If it had been a film about US president Barack Obama, he would hardly have used such a racist term. So why did he use it? Having drawn criticism on both social media and the Washington Times, that is the right question which Mr Adams must ask himself.
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