Sunday Life

Adams for USA, with or without an invitation to the White House

By Alan Murray
13 February 2005

GERRY Adams is set to travel to Washington next month - even if he is snubbed by the White House on St Patrick's Day.

The Sinn Fein president is planning an eight-day visit, starting with a meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations on March 14.

There is speculation the council, headed by former NI special envoy Richard Haass, will grill Adams over alleged IRA criminal activity, including the £26.5m Northern Bank robbery.

The US Consul in Belfast is making no comment on reports that Sinn Fein - and possibly all the Northern Ireland parties - could be frozen out of the annual March 17 bash, hosted by the President.

A senior aide to Gerry Adams said: "We are aware of the rumours but have no direct knowledge of any arrangements. It is a matter for the US administration, but we wouldn't rule out interference from the British or Irish Governments, especially the Irish, because they are on a charge against Sinn Fein at this moment.

"We wouldn't rule out the possibility that they would ask the Americans to do their dirty work, but we would point out that British ministers have no problem sitting in television studios with senior Sinn Fein figures."

Meanwhile, the DUP's Peter Robinson said barring all local political parties from the White House would be an "outrageous punishment of the innocent along with the guilty".

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