Gerry Adams to hold talks with US State Department officials

Sinn Féin leader earlier reportedly accused US government of ‘bizarre’ behaviour

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has accused the US government of behaving bizarrely after a meeting with a senior official in Washington DC was postponed. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has accused the US government of behaving bizarrely after a meeting with a senior official in Washington DC was postponed. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill/The Irish Times

 

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams will now meet US State Department officials in Washington on St Patrick’s Day following confusion around whether the department had refused to host him.

The BBC reported that the State Department was not going to meet Mr Adams on his visit to Washington on St Patrick’s Day but a spokesman for the Sinn Féin leader later said a meeting between him and the department had never been confirmed.

Mr Adams was quoted by the British broadcaster describing the decision of the State Department’s handling of the issue of a meeting with him as “bizarre.”

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness cancelled their plans to travel to Washington for the annual St Patrick’s Day meetings at the White House in an attempt to find agreement on welfare reforms that have divided Sinn Féin and the DUP.

“It’s no skin off my nose not to meet the State Department,” said Mr Adams before his meeting with US government department was confirmed.

A spokesman for Mr Adams confirmed he would meet State Department officials but had no details of the meeting.

Mr McGuinness posted a message on social media website Twitter saying he was pleased the State Department was meeting Mr Adams.

The Sinn Féin president sat at the top table with former secretary of state Hillary Clinton as she addressed an Irish-American lunch in New York. His role in the Northern Irish peace process was praised at the Irish-American lunch by host Niall O’Dowd whose Irish America magazine was honouring Mrs Clinton at the event.

Mr Adams echoed remarks made by Mrs Clinton that “dialogue and inclusivity” works. The State Department’s decision to cancel his meeting “just distracts” from the main issue which is Sinn Féin’s objective to implement fully the Stormont House Agreement, he said.

Asked whether he was disappointed by the decision of Mr McGuinness not to travel to Washington, Mr Adams told The Irish Times it showed the party’s focus on “sorting things out back at home.”

“It shows Sinn Féin’s priority,” he said. “Martin McGuinness could have come ahead. He decided to stay. That shows where our focus is.”

Mr McGuinness and Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson could come again to the US “some time in the future.”

Sinn Féin’s engagement with Irish Americans did not just happen on St Patrick’s Day but “all year around,” he said.

Mr Adams criticised Taoiseach Enda Kenny for claiming during his St Patrick’s Day trip to the US that the Sinn Féin leader knew more about the IRA sex abuse allegations made by Maíria Cahill and Paudie McGahon than he had disclosed.

“I think he diminishes his office,” he said. “I never like to criticise An Taoiseach outside of the island. I think he diminishes his office.”

Mr Adams said he had to distinguish between the “obvious need to support victims and survivors and then the need to robustly defend myself and the Sinn Féin party from the type of allegations that are made.”

He claimed that Mr Kenny’s remarks were “all about the election.”

“It’s negative campaigning. The Taoiseach should cease,” he said.

He called on the Taoiseach to support a proposal made by Mr McGuinness to build an all-island mechanism to support victims of sexual abuse who may not have come forward privately or publicly.

Asked about the Taoiseach’s comments on whether he had disclosed everything he knew about the Cahill and McGahon cases, he said: “Anything I know about this issue I have told to An Garda Síochána. ”