Nike, the sportswear company, has apologised after issuing a St Patrick's Day-themed training shoe which raised memories of a British paramilitary unit notorious for terrorising Irish Roman Catholics in the 1920s.
The $US90 limited edition "black and tan" sneakers were put on sale in the United States in time for this weekend's St Patrick's Day celebrations, a popular and often alcohol-filled holiday for millions of Irish Americans.
Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike.
Officially named the SB Dunk Low, Nike said that it had nicknamed the "beer-themed" shoe the Black and Tan because its colours were reminiscent of a pint of Guinness mixed with Harp pale ale. Irish Americans protested that the name evoked memories of the Royal Irish Constabulary Reserve Force, known as the Black and Tans for their makeshift uniforms, which carried out a brutal oppression of Roman Catholics between 1920 and 1921.
One critic said that naming the trainer Black and Tan was so "insensitive" it was comparable to calling it al-Qaeda.
Advertisements for the trainer read: "'Tis the season for Irish beer and why not celebrate with Nike. The Black and Tan sneaker takes inspiration for the fine balancing act of a Stout [Guinness] on top a pale ale [Harp] in a pint glass."
Retail displays in stores throughout the country describe the shoes as "Black and Tans". A spokesman for Nike said: "This month Nike is scheduled to release a version of the Nike SB Dunk Low that has been unofficially named by some using a phrase that can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive. We apologise. No offence was intended."
The Black and Tans were First World War veterans recruited by the Royal Irish Constabulary as temporary constables and deployed in Ireland to help suppress the IRA uprising which led to the formation of the Irish Republic.
They became infamous for their brutal treatment of civilians including women and children, burning and sacking towns and villages in revenge for IRA assassinations.
The Daily Telegraph, London