THE New York Sun launches a stinging attack on Sinn Fein, saying the party should not be in Washington on St Patrick’s Day and urging punitive action to be taken by the US Envoy Mitchell Reiss. The Irish Echo reports continuing uncertainty about the involvement of local parties in the White House event on St Paddy’s Day, and tells us that despite giving him a visa, a meeting between SF’s Gerry Kelly and a displeased Reiss was passed to a State Department official instead.
Writing in the New York Sun, Ed Moloney said Bush was in a difficult position regarding a meeting with Gerry Adams. Moloney wrote:
It is a tough decision, because either way the president will likely come under criticism. Banning Adams, as an angry administration source hinted the president is considering, will attract hostility from Irish-Americans, a constituency the Republican Party has been wooing in recent years, with some success. But allowing him to attend will leave the White House open to accusations that it has double standards on terrorism.
The Sun’s editorial was so stridently forthright in its attack, it almost sounded like a DUP press release:
Sinn Féin/IRA is one of the most anti-American political movements in Western Europe: its newspaper, for example, has described Colin Powell as a war criminal. Its foreign cognates are such terrorist groupings as the Palestine Liberation Organization, Hezbollah, the Colombian FARC and the Basque separatists of ETA. If it ever joins a coalition government in the Irish Republic, it will make the southern state more hostile to our interests: think of the difficulty which even the current Irish government had in securing landing rights at Shannon for American military aircraft during the liberation of Iraq.
It is intolerable that the commander in chief of the world’s only superpower should be humiliated in this way by a group of two-bit provincial hoods masquerading as freedom fighters.
St Patrick’s Day is a celebration of the Irish contribution to civilization. The Sinn Féin/IRA leadership represents the antithesis of that proud heritage. We do not need them here.
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The Echo reported that the US President felt rather like Bertie Ahern does right now – frustrated and conned:
“It would be embarrassing after all these years of supporting the presence of Sinn Féin here as a player in the peace process to have to go back to our districts and say ‘they’re just a bunch of robbers,'” said one member of Congress who did not want to be identified.
Irish diplomats said plans for the upcoming St. Patrick’s Day celebration at the White House have been put on hold.
U.S. officials want a clearer picture of the bank raid, see the results of the meeting between Adams and Ahern in Dublin, and take into account the view of British Prime Minister Tony Blair before deciding how to proceed.
“The Taoiseach will definitely be handing over the bowl of shamrock, it’s a question of whether there will be anyone else there,” said one Irish diplomat. Meanwhile, uncertainty over the White House’s plans for St. Patrick’s Day has caused American University in Washington to delay assembling a presentation on the North because it has been unable to ascertain if representatives of the North’s various political parties will be in the city on March 17.
Indications this week from Irish, British and U.S. officials were that the uncertainty might continue for some days yet.