Sinn Fein’s Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness will join DUP leader Peter Robinson and 26-County Taoiseach Enda Kenny among a smaller coterie of Irish politicians than usual to visit Washington DC for the annual St Patrick’s day bash at the White House this week.
Mr Adams said he planned to meet the Friends of Ireland Committee and other senior Congressional and Senate members, as well as attending the White House reception and the annual Speakers’ lunch.
In New York he will speak at a wreath laying ceremony at the republican plot in Calvary Cemetery New York in memory of the hunger strikers who died 30 years ago this year.
“I am very pleased to take the opportunity to travel to Washington to represent Sinn Fein,” Mr Adams said.
“It will provide me with an opportunity to thank President Obama and other senior US politicians for their continued support for the Irish peace process.
“While I am there I will hold a number of key meetings with senior political figures in the Congress and discuss with them outstanding matters arising from the peace process.
“There has also been keen interest in the outcome of the recent general election, Sinn Fein’s success in it and in my election to the Louth and East Meath constituency.”
Mr Adams said he regretted being unable to attend a Congressional Hearing on the events in Ballymurphy in August 1971 today [Wednesday], due to his participation in the first leaders’ questions in the Dublin parliament since his election.
However, he welcomed the decision to hold the hearing, following a visit by the families last December.
Eleven people, including a local priest and a mother of eight children, all innocent civilians, were shot dead by the British Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy in August, 1971.
The families of the victims are seeking for an international independent investigation into the events surrounding the deaths of their loved ones.
“The Congressional Hearing will bring a focus onto the huge injustice done to these families by the British Army and which successive British governments have refused to acknowledge,” Mr Adams said.