Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams has insulted the main Protestant party in Northern Ireland amid rising tensions in their 7-year-old unity government.

Adams made his unusually sharp criticism of the Democratic Unionist Party during a question-and-answer session Monday with Sinn Fein activists in Enniskillen. A local reporter tweeted audio of his comments.

Adams said his Irish Catholic party was cooperating with the Democratic Unionists to "break these bastards. That's the point. And what's going to break them is equality."

Adams later said he intended to refer only to Democratic Unionist "bigots, racists or homophobes."

Opponents have accused Adams of undermining Northern Ireland's peace accord, which requires Sinn Fein and the Democratic Unionists to govern the British territory in partnership.

Sinn Fein still seeks to overturn Protestant opposition to uniting Ireland.