Sinn Fein MEP ridiculed after support for Adams over slavery

Sinn Fein Member of the European Parliament Martina Anderson.
Sinn Fein Member of the European Parliament Martina Anderson.

Sinn Fein’s Martina Anderson has provoked a wave of criticism after an apparent attempt to support her party leader over his ‘slavery’ comments.

Gerry Adams faced an angry backlash on Monday after comparing the plight of Irish nationalists with black slaves.

That’s junk history - deeply offensive and showing a pathetic need to claim victimhood

On Tuesday, Ms Anderson tweeted: “1641 to 1652 550,000 Irish were killed by England & 300,000 more were sold as slaves. 100,000 Irish kids taken from parents & sold as slaves.”

Limerick-based historian Liam Hogan was among those who rejected the source as containing “no references” and “many falsehoods”.

Ms Anderson’s claims appear to come the blogpost www.kavanaghfamily.com, which goes even further than Mr Adams by reporting that African slaves were treated “much better” than the Irish.

Among other statements with no listed source, the blogger writes: “Although the Africans and Irish were housed together and were the property of the planter owners, the Africans received much better treatment, food and housing.”

Mr Hogan is due to publish a paper on the subject - ‘The Myth of ‘Irish Slaves’ in the Colonies’ - next month.

Belfast journalist Tim Brannigan, who was the only black prisoner on a republican wing in the H-blocks, has questioned the comparison made by Gerry Adams.

“I don’t think that you can equate what was happening in Belfast in 1965 with slavery. Comparing nationalists to blacks is clearly wrong. Nationalists were not in chains. They were not slaves,” he said.

Responding to Mr Hogan’s criticism of the senior Sinn Fein figure’s claim, Ohio history professor John White tweeted that it “illustrates how low the level of historical literacy is on both sides the Atlantic, even among the educated.”

Dublin and London-based journalist and broadcaster Josef O’Shea tweeted: “That’s junk history - deeply offensive & showing a pathetic need to claim victimhood.”

A stream of criticism followed with one user posting: “This is utterly untrue and has been thoroughly debunked by historians.”

Others included: “Read some history books. You’re embarrassing yourself,” and “an utterly false comparison that seeks to undermine the true depravity of the slave trade. I’m embarrassed for you!”