Adams defies ‘carrot and stick’ pressure
Adams defies ‘carrot and stick’ pressure

Efforts by Gerry Adams to brief Irish-American supporters of the peace process this week were hampered by a fund-raising ban and travel issues.

The Sinn Féin President was forced to take to America’s railways after he was detained by aiport security over the apparent appearance of his name on a list of “terror” suspects.

Mr Adams was detained at a Washington airport after attending a meeting of Irish leaders with US President George Bush at the White House. The delay caused him to miss a scheduled St Patrick’s Day appearance in Buffalo, in upstate New York.

Adams’s name, and that of party aide Richar McAuley, appeared on a terror watch list, triggering a lengthy inspection, said Congressman Brian Higgins, a New York Democrat who had invited Adams to speak at the Buffalo Irish Centre.

“When I spoke with his assistant a little while ago, their luggage was still being, let’s just say, inspected,” Higgins told a crowd of several hundred people awaiting Adams’ address on Friday.

Adams himself “was detained physically for over an hour”, Higgins said. He had been booked on a 5.30pm flight from Washington to Buffalo.

“Gerry Adams should not have been on a terror watch list,” said Higgins, who quickly placed calls to State Department and other officials seeking an explanation.

The suggestion of “no fly” restrictions being placed on Mr Adams following a series of engagements with all the most powerful politicians in the US underlined the apparent continuation of a ‘carrot and stick’ policy in regard to Irish republicans by the Bush administration.

Mr Adams expressed his dismay at the situation.

“I am deeply disappointed that I could not attend the events in Buffalo. Last night 700 people turned up to be briefed on the peace process,” Mr Adams said.

“I have consistently raised with the administration the problem of additional security screening.

“While I understand the need for vigilance, Sinn Féin members are the victims of an unacceptable and unfair administrative practice.”

US authorities refused to comment on whether Mr Adams was on a terror watch list.

Speculation that Mr Adams’s travel problems were a cynical response to his criticism of US George Bush’s special envoy Mitchell Reiss was denied by both Sinn Féin and US officials.

Mr Reiss was responsible for the decision not to allow Mr Adams to fundraise, another major point of friction with Sinn Féin.

Mr Adams’s attendance at an event organised by Friends of Sinn Féin at the Capital Hilton led to the party being denied a considerable sum of donations last week.

“Well, I don’t have any high regard for Mitchell Reiss’s input into this process,” said Mr Adams, speaking at the event at the Washington Hilton.

“I’ve talked to Mitchell Reiss recently. I said that if it is he who is advising the president, then it is very, very bad advice.”

Mr Adams said that he resented the fact that the Bush administration was now treating Sinn Féin differently than other parties from the North. He said that the fundraising prohibition would also give yet another excuse to Ian Paisley and the DUP to try and veto progress.

“We are not a party that will ever exclude ourselves. We believe in standing up for ourselves and more, importantly for the people who support us.

“So, if anybody thinks that in some way they’re going to bounce us, or arm-wrestle us into a position that we don’t want to be in, well they’re dealing with the wrong party.”

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© 2006 Irish Republican News