Concern over ‘love to Gerry Adams’ in Clinton speech

Leaked email shows speechwriter’s fear given Sinn Féin leader’s ‘legal troubles’

One of Hillary Clinton's speechwriters expressed concern that the Democrat "gave more love to Gerry Adams than I might have liked" during an address to an Irish-American audience in New York last year.

Dan Schwerin made the remark in an email to fellow Clinton aides in March 2015, shortly after the former secretary of state spoke at the "Irish America Hall of Fame" lunch about the importance of the former US president Bill Clinton granting Mr Adams a US visa in the mid-1990s during the Northern Irish peace process.


“She gave more love to Gerry Adams than I might have liked given his recent legal troubles, but it was in the context of WJC [William Jefferson Clinton] granting his visa in 1994, so hopefully okay,” wrote Mr Schwerin, who is the director of speechwriting for the Democratic presidential candidate.

The reference to Mr Adams's legal problems may relate to his 2014 arrest by police in the North investigating the 1972 abduction and killing of Jean McConville, the 37-year-old Belfast widow.

Six months after the St Patrick’s Day hall of fame event, Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service announced that Mr Adams would not face any criminal charges over the killing.

Mrs Clinton sat opposite the Sinn Féin president at the top table at the event hosted by Irish America magazine.

Mr Schwerin's email was published on whistleblowing website WikiLeaks yesterday in the latest posting of emails belonging to Mrs Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta.

Mrs Clinton had told guests: “Absent that first step, that first risk, we might not have had the momentum to move forward, to get to the Good Friday accords and all that has followed.”

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell

Simon Carswell is The Irish Times’s Public Affairs Editor and former Washington correspondent