Surpised and disappointed at Mary McAleese. She has undone an awful lot of good work. McAleese: Protestant children taught to hate Catholics
President Mary McAleese was at the centre of a sectarian row tonight after claiming Protestant children in the North were taught to hate Catholics in the same way Nazis despised Jews.
It provoked outrage among unionists who accused her of vilifying an entire community.
President McAleese 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.
Unionists were astonished and incensed by the comparison from a head of state who has cited strengthening cross-community relations as a key aim of her Presidency.