There has been no comment so far by the White House after an extraordinary and hamfisted insult to Gerry Adams drew stinging criticism from the Sinn Fein party leader and stunned Irish-American political leaders.
Mr Adams hit out after being stopped from entering the White House for a St Patrick’s Day celebrations event with President Obama last night. Despite being invited, as he has for several years, Mr Adams was told there was a “security issue” when he attempted to attend the annual event at which the traditional bowl of shamrock is presented.
Mr Adams’s party colleagues, the Six County Deputy First Minister (and former IRA commander) Martin McGuinness, and the party’s deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald, were allowed to enter the celebrations. Mr Adams waited for about 90 minutes before deciding to leave. He has described the incident was “an unacceptable development”.
Invitations to White House events are only issued following the most stringent security checks. This afternoon, Mr Adams tweeted a picture of his invitation. The Sinn Fein President said that he had been invited to the event and was pleased to accept.
“When I arrived the staff at the White House informed me there was an issue of ‘security’,” he said.
“After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless meetings in the White House with successive US Presidents, this is an unacceptable development.
“It is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who seek to treat Sinn Fein differently.”
Mr Adams added that Sinn Fein representatives had been denied entry or had to go through extra searches when travelling to the USA, while the State Department had also initially refused to meet him last year until protests from Irish America.
“Last year the State Department initially refused to meet me as part of a transparent effort to pressurise Sinn Fein during negotiations at Stormont.
“That meeting did take place after protests from US political leaders. Efforts to pressurise us in the negotiations failed.
“This morning Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald and I met with the Congressional Friends of Ireland. They too shared our grave disappointment at the White House situation and expressed their determination to have this issue resolved.
“Sinn Fein will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone. We are elected to represent citizens and we will do this. I am hopeful that the controversy around my White House invitation will help lead to a resolution of all these matters,” he added.
Leading US Congressional figures promised an immediate inquiry. Richie Tranghese, key Irish staffer for Congressman Ritchie Neal, said the refusal would be immediately challenged.