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Irish president sorry for Nazi-Ulster hate comparison

Mary McAleese has apologised after she caused a sectarian row when she claimed that Northern Ireland children were taught to hate Catholics in the same way Nazis despised Jews.

The Universe reports that Ms McAleese's comments provoked outrage among unionists who accused her of vilifying an entire community.

Her assessment came during ceremonies to mark the 60th anniversary of the Auschwitz concentration camp liberation.

Anti-Semitism that existed for decades had been built upon by the Nazis, she said.

"They gave to their children an irrational hatred of Jews in the same way that people in Northern Ireland transmitted to their children an irrational hatred of Catholics, in the same way that people give to their children an outrageous and irrational hatred of those who are of different colour and all of those things," said Mrs McAleese, who grew up in Belfast.

But she later said she is "deeply sorry" for the offence caused by the remarks. She said she was devastated by the reaction and acknowledged she had been "clumsy".

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble told BBC News her words had been "remarkably ill-judged".

"It is most unlike her to make a mistake of that nature, a mistake because it trivialises the experience of European Jewry and trivialises the Holocaust and also causes considerable offence in Northern Ireland.

McAleese causes sectarian row (The Universe - temporary URL)
McAleese 'sorry' over Nazi remark (BBC 29/1/05)

Alternative priests' council hits back on mandatory celibacy (CathNews 28/1/05)

McAleese apologises for Nazi remarks (The Guardian 29/1/05)
Irish president apologises for Nazi remarks (Belfast Telegraph 29/1/05)
Editorial: Mcaleese Apologises But Damage Is Done (News Letter 30/1/05)
McAleese apologises over N.Irish Nazi row (Reuters 28/1/05)
Queen in a fury over nazi slur (Daily Mirror 30/1/05)
Adams defends McAleese with 'apartheid' claim (The Times 30/1/05)
Orange Order cancel McAleese talks (UTV 28/1/05)

31 Jan 2005