Nike Black and Tan
Nike outraged Irish sensibilities with its 'Black and Tan' sneaker ahead of St Patrick’s Day

Nike has been accused of insensitivity for allowing a new shoe in its range to be nicknamed after a notorious anti-Irish paramilitary group - on the eve of St Patrick's Day.

The Black and Tan name has revived bad memories of the fascistic British unit used in the 1920s to crush Catholic dissent. The name has been condemned by Irish groups in Ireland and the US.

A report in the Telegraph said the £57 shoe, officially named "SB Dunk Low" had been nicknamed "Black and Tan" because its colours were reminiscent of a pint of Guinness mixed with Harp pale ale.

"Is there no one at Nike able to Google Black and Tan?" the Belfast Telegraph quoted Ciaran Staunton, president of the US-based Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform, asking.

Nike said the shoe had been "unofficially named by some using a phrase that can be viewed as inappropriate and insensitive.

"We apologise," a spokesman said. "No offence was intended. When launched, it is likely to be available in several countries, albeit in limited numbers. It won't be on sale in Ireland as we hadn't planned to distribute it in Ireland."

The Washington Post reported that other companies such as maker Ben and Jerrys also tried using "Black and Tan" for a product.