`United Ireland will be reality' - Adams in US
By Mick Naughton
``A united Ireland is not only a possibility but it is going to
become a reality.''
Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams MP's first words on landing at
Kennedy Airport in New York last Tuesday afternoon reflected the
confident mood among the strongest Sinn Fein delegation ever sent
to the United States.
Flanked by senior negotiater and Mid-Ulster MP Martin McGuinness
and Cavan Monaghan TD Caoimhghín O Caoláin, Adams said that this
visit, with the imminent start of peace talks, would be a vital
staging post on the journey to a lasting peace in Ireland.
``President Clinton, the US political establishment, and
Irish-America have in recent years played a pivotal role in the
search for peace.
``Our visit this week has a number of objectives. We will be
talking to the White House and to political leaders in
Washington, and briefing them on the current situation.''
Adams said everyone was now entering the most critical phase of
the peace process, and probably the most crucial peace talks this
century. And while thanking Irish-America for its support and
encouragement he also cautioned that ``the time ahead will be
fraught with difficulties.''
He concluded by asking everyone in the US to redouble their
efforts to ensure that US backing for the peace process does not
``We must keep our focus firmly fixed on the prize of a democratic
peace settlement,'' he said before flying to Washington for a
hectic series of top level briefings and meetings.
The Sinn Fein delegation had been welcomed at the airport by New
York City Comptroller Alan Hevesi and Republican Congressman
Peter King after flying from Dublin where Adams had urged Ulster
Unionist leader David Trimble to take part in the forthcoming
talks and listen to his grassroots.
During their five day stay the delegation are meeting President
Clinton's National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger in the White
House, Secretary of Commerce William Daly, and Senators Ted
Kennedy, Chris Dodd, Robert Torricelli and Alfonse D'Amato. A
packed press conference in the National Press Building in
Washington on Wednesday heard the Sinn Fein anyalsis.
Buoyed by this years spectacular Sinn Féin election successes a
reception was organised by Irish American groups in the Phoenix
Park Hotel, just a few hundred yards from the Capitol building.
Thursday sees meetings with members of Congress and the House
Speaker in Capitol building itself.
Caoimhghin O Caoláin stressed the importance of the meeting with
Commerce Secretary William Daly. The TD will be renewing contacts
made with the late Assistant Secretary of Commerce Chuck Meissner
who with Commerce Secretary Ron Brown was killed in plane crash
over Bosnia. As a result of his meetings with Meissner O Caoláin
secured a visit by the Assistant Commerce Secretary to Monaghan
and a follow-up visit by US industrialists to aid economic
development in the border region.
The signifcance of the Sinn Fein delegation was acknowledged by
an invitation to it from the International Relations Committee of
Congress. Headed by New York Congressman Ben Gilman this
powerful committee took the MacBride Principles under its remit
in 1995. The committe has since signalled its interest on several
occassions in front of senior political officers from the British
The BBC and ITV are sending TV crews to shadow the delegation on
their four hour train journey from Washington to New York on
Thursday afternoon. There will be a press conference prior to the
main fundraiser at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. An Irish community
rally will be held in the 1500 seater Roseland Ballroom where the
Wolfe Tones and other bands will play on Friday evening.
Also on Friday New York City mayor Rudolph Guilliani will host a
press conference at City Hall shortly before a meeting on Friday
evening with the group representing families of Irish political
exiles threatened with deporation from the US. They will raise
the cases of those facing deportation due to their political
beliefs. And the three H Block escapees Kevin Barry Artt, Pol
Brennan and Terry Kirby will meet with Martin McGuinness in the
Federal Penitentiary in Pleasantville near San Francisco. On
Saturday Caoimhghin O Caolain is scheduled to address a major
rally in Chicago's International Brotherhood of Electrical
Workers building before the three join up again in New York for
the return trip to Ireland.