Belfast Telegraph

US will allow St Pat's visit from Adams

By Sean O'Driscoll in New York
20 January 2005

The US government will not block Gerry Adams from attending the St Patrick's Day festivities in Washington, a senior government official familiar with Irish issues has said.

His comments follow an article in the New York Sun newspaper which suggested that the Bush administration may try to block Adams from entering the US because of the Northern Bank cash heist.

US envoy Mitchell Reiss is looking forward to St Patrick's week as the next possible chance for the US government to discuss the political situation with the political parties.

The official said that Adams and other Sinn Fein leaders will not be blocked from entering the US unless it can be shown that they were aware of the Northern Bank heist.

As he outlined in his inaugural speech yesterday, Bush is keen to be shown as a uniter in his second term and is very keen for any kind of foreign political settlement that can improve the US government's standing as a peacemaker.

The US is, therefore, unlikely to block Sinn Fein leaders from travelling, and suffer the anger of Irish Americans, without clear evidence of wrongdoing supplied by the British government.

The official said the removal of rights to enter the US is not determined by membership of any specific organisation but is usually based on past criminal record.

Mr Adams would most likely not be banned from the country because of his known links to the IRA and would only be stopped if it can shown that he was still involved in criminal activity, he said.

US envoy Mitchell Reiss was unavailable for comment on the Adams visa issue.

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