Unionists at the Mid Ulster Council have criticised the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams after he used what they say was offensive language at a public meeting in Enniskillen last month.
Although Mr Adams insists he was referring to bigots when he used the ‘b’ word, local DUP and UUP councillors made it clear at Thursday night’s monthly meeting of the shadow council that they believed he was insulting all unionists.
UUP representative Robert Mulligan claimed the remarks exposed the entire peace process as ‘a facade’.
“I and many of my community were sceptical of the ceasefire when it was first announced, and these remarks now prove it was a facade”, he said.
“The view Gerry Adams expressed was a true reflection of his innermost being. It was a callous remark which proves he completely lacks trustworthiness.”
To prove the legitimacy of his birth, Councillor Mulligan told the chamber: “My parents were married in 1925 and I was born in 1938.”
However, Sinn Fein councillor Ronan McGinley claimed that the remarks were taken out of context.
“The expressed language was inappropriate but it was not directed at Unionists”, he said.
“An apology has been issued for the comment”, he added, reminding the chamber that former UUP leader Tom Elliott had referred to Sinn Fein councillors as ‘scum’. He also mentioned DUP MLA Gregory Campbell’s offensive remarks about the Irish language.
The Torrent representative assured the council that Sinn Fein fully endorsed the principles of a mutually shared society and equality for all.
DUP Councillor Paul McLean commended Councillor Mulligan for the remarks.
“He always speaks with authority and clarity, and I don’t believe he has taken the remarks out of context. This was a case of the mask slipping.”
His party colleague Clement Cuthbertson went as far as branding the Adams’ comment ‘a hate crime’.
“I also think the MP for the area should apologise to the people of Fermanagh and Mr Adams would be better suited going to the PSNI and telling them what he knows about the past.”
UUP Councillor Trevor Wilson said the comment exposed the bitterness the Sinn Fein leader feels towards the unionist community.
“Equality is a human right, and the UUP has no fear of equality or a shared future. However, equality must be based on the consent principle, and we reject Sinn Fein’s false definition of equality.”
Councillor Mulligan added that he was disappointed by the attitude displayed by the non-unionist side of the council.
However, a motion proposed by his party condemning the comments was defeated in the council chamber.
At the public meeting in November, Mr Adams was apparently answering a question about Sinn Féin’s relationship with the DUP in the light of Gregory Campbell’s disparaging comments about the Irish language.
Mr Adams 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,” he said.
“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 reach out to people on the basis of equality.”