Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has acknowledged that using a racist word for a black person in a tweet was inappropriate.
In the message posted by Mr Adams last night, he used the six-letter N-word after telling followers he was watching a Quentin Tarantino film, Django Unchained, comparing the struggle against slavery in the US to the struggle by Irish nationalists.
The tweet drew criticism on social media and from The Washington Times, which reported that Mr Adams had used the most toxic of all slurs in his post last night.
In a statement, Mr Adams said: "Django Unchained is a powerful film which highlights the injustices suffered by African Americans through its main character Django.
"In my tweets I described him as a 'Ballymurphy n……' and 'an uppity Fenian.'
"I have acknowledged that the use of the n-word was inappropriate.
"That is why I deleted the tweet. I apologise for any offence caused.
"I stand over the context and main point of my tweet about the Django which were the parallels between people in struggle," he added.
Earlier Mr Adams had said his tweets about the film and the use of the N-word were ironic and not intended to cause any offence.
Any1 who saw Django would know my tweets&N-word were ironic.Nationalists in Nth were treated like African Americans.— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) May 2, 2016