Irish Republican News · March 13, 2006
[Irish Republican News]

[Irish Republican News]
IRISH REPUBLICAN NEWS: ADAMS TO MEET BUSH
ADAMS TO MEET BUSH

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has accepted a St Patrick’s Day invitation to the White House despite a US administration ban on his fundraising plans and strong Irish opposition to George Bush’s foreign policy.

Ian Paisley’s DUP has turned down an invitation to attend the March 17 reception, a decision the party denied was a snub.

Others expected to attend at the White House are 26-County Taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Mark Durkan of the SDLP, Reg Empey of the Ulster Unionists, David Ford of the Alliance Party, and the Progressive Unionist Party representative David Ervine.

While meeting Mr Bush, Mr Adams is not expected to attend a fundraiser organised by the US-based Friends of Sinn Féin on March 16 because his visa will not permit him to do so. The visa restiction was imposed last year in connection with Sinn Féin’s failure to support the PSNI police in the Six Counties.

No party leaders from the North were invited to the White House for the annual presentation-of-the-shamrock ceremony last year.

A Sinn Féin spokesman said the White House invitation was “an indication of a more positive attitude by the administration and that has to be welcomed.”

In New York Mr Adams will brief Irish American supporters of the peace process and meet with the Irish Lobby for Immigration Reform. Mr Adams will then travel to Washington DC where he will brief senior members of Congress including Senators Kennedy, Dodd and Clinton before attend the St. Patrick’s Day event in the White House.

Speaking in advance of the trip Mr. Adams said:

“Last week I wrote to the Taoiseach and the British Prime Minister asking that they set out a timetable for the restoration of the Assembly and the Executive, well in advance of the start of the loyalist marching season.

“Next week I will be meeting with supporters of the peace process in Irish America, Congress and the White House and I will be urging everyone to do all in their power to see this happen.

“The governments know that the current talks are going nowhere but if they continue to allow the DUP to veto all attempts at progress they risk running the entire process into the ground.

“There is an opportunity to end the impasse in the political and peace process but it means the governments taking decisive action in the coming weeks.

BOWL OF SHAMROCK

The Taoiseach will make the traditional presentation of a bowl of shamrock to the president on Friday morning. In a statement yesterday, White House press secretary Scott McClellan said this ceremony “dates back decades and symbolises the close friendship between the United States and Ireland”.

Despite intense opposition to the war in Iraq at home, Irish political leaders have maintained close ties to both the Democrat and Republican parties in the US.

Mr Ahern and President Bush will meet in the Oval Office for up to 30 minutes. They will discuss the war in Iraq and the Irish peace process, as well as plans for immigration reform in the US.

The family of Joseph Rafferty, a Dublin man shot dead last April, have also been invited to the White House.

The Rafferty family claim their son was shot by a former Provisional IRA member and his murder then covered up by Sinn Féin and the IRA. Republicans have strongly denied such claims.

The family of Belfast man Robert McCartney has again been invited to attend. Mr McCartney was died in a pub brawl outside a Belfast city centre bar over a year ago. Three members of the IRA were alleged to have been involved and were later expelled from the organisation.

The families will have a brief photo-opportunity with the President before the main reception.

© 2006 Irish Republican News