Adams cancels Commons visit as Labour criticises Corbyn

 

Sinn Fein president Mr Gerry Adams has cancelled his planned visit to the House of Commons. It is thought the decision was made to save the British Labour Party MP Mr Jeremy Corbyn and because the visit would generate only negative publicity.

Labour's leadership cracked the whip earlier last night in its visit to prevent Mr Adams's Paddy Ashdown, leader of the Liberal Democrats, criticised event deemed particularly inappropriate after Monday's massive security operation against the IRA.

Earlier, Mr Adams had insisted his visit's timing was "not at all" insensitive, coming just days after the foiling of an IRA bombing campaign and as controversy - grew about the circumstances surrounding the fatal shooting of Diarmuid O'Neill.

He had been scheduled to visit the Palace of Westminster for a "private" meeting with Mr Corbyn, MP for Islington North and several of his Labour colleagues.

Mr Corbyn said in a statement last night that "dialogue with all parties remains essential if the peace process is to continue".

He had originally planned to host a press conference for Mr Adams, who was to promote his autobiography in London. The Speakers Office had approved the event, deeming it within the guidelines for the use of Commons facilities by former MPs.

But after some confusion about its nature, the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms withdrew permission.

Had the planned meeting gone ahead, Mr Corbyn would have faced the threat of disciplinary action - possibly the loss of the Labour whip. After Mr Tony Blair had dissociated himself and the party from Mr Corbyn's action, Chief Whip Mr Donald Dewar said he had asked Mr Corbyn not to sponsor the original press conference. He said the meeting would have been "a clear breach of the spirit of the advice given to him and a defiance of the steps taken by the House authorities to stop the planned press conference".

Shadow Northern Ireland Secretary Dr Mo Mowlam said: "He (Mr Corbyn) does not speak for the Labour Party and we condemn his proposed action unreservedly. Gerry Adams should be concentrating his efforts on encouraging the IRA to restore its ceasefire, rather than promoting his book."

Fellow MP Mr Clive Soley, chairman of the Northern Ireland Select Committee, earlier appealed to Mr Corbyn to "think again".

Tory MP Mr Terry Dicks urged Labour to expel Mr Corbyn because Sinn Fein and the IRA are two sides of the same coin". Sir James Spicer MP said "it is particularly disgraceful that this should happen at a delicate time like this

Meanwhile it was confirmed last night that the UUP leader, Mr David Trimble, will address a fringe meeting at next week's Labour Party conference in Blackpool.