'It's a decision for the US administration'

The Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern, will be in Washington tomorrow, but before he left Ireland he talked about some of the available options(RealPlayer req.) he would be discussing with the US adminstration. The media chose which line they preferred to highlight, RTE saying the Government would urge no exclusion from the St Pat’s party, while Irish Times picks up the official line, The question of inviting Sinn Féin leaders to the White House on St Patrick’s Day is strictly a matter for “President Bush and his team”

The Irish Times gives us a schedule for further news and a quote from an offical spokesman for the Minister –

At a working lunch in Washington tomorrow, Mr Ahern will brief Dr Reiss about the Government’s position on the crisis in the peace process and the two men will review the latest developments. They will hold a press conference afterwards.

As special envoy, Dr Reiss was heavily involved in attempts at the end of last year to bring about agreement between Sinn Féin and the Democratic Unionist Party. He is moving from his position as director of policy planning at the US State Department back into academic life but will remain as special envoy for the time being.

On the issue of inviting Sinn Féin leaders to the traditional White House reception on St Patrick’s Day, a spokesman for the Minister said, “Who gets invited to the White House is entirely a matter for President Bush and his team”.

At the weekend though, the Washignton Post carried this editorial (free reg. req.) on the decision facing President Bush –

….

The most important point about the affair, though, is that the governments of Britain and Ireland, which have historically been at odds over Northern Ireland, appear to be in unanimity. The British prime minister, Tony Blair, has stated that he has seen the police evidence on the robbery and believes it is accurate. The Irish prime minister, Bertie Ahearn, has gone further, stating that he believes some of Sinn Fein’s elected officials knew about this robbery and several others in advance. That means they knew about them even while they were conducting disarmament negotiations and even while they spoke with American negotiators, including President Bush, who made a telephone to the protagonists before Christmas.

If nothing else, this news should be enough to destroy any remaining American sentimentality about the IRA, an organization that appears to have successfully transformed itself into not a democratic political party but rather an organized crime syndicate. Although it has become traditional for the U.S. president to hold a reception for Northern Irish politicians on St. Patrick’s Day, Mr. Bush should think hard about whether he wants to have bosses of that syndicate in the White House next month.

There is a clear alternative to invitations going out to all and sundry, or to everyone but Sinn Féin, and that is to host only the Irish Government representatives at the Whitehouse event – an option that may not be the cause of celebration among the President’s speechwriters, but it may be the best option for the US administration to chose.

  • Malachy

    He is moving from his position as director of policy planning at the US State Department back into academic life…

    That just about illustrates the level of importance given to the peace process by the bushy administration.

    Also The Washington Post is hardly worth quoting on American feeling about the IRA or anything to do with Ireland.

  • CavanMan

    Even though im not a supporter of Sinn Fein..it amazes me how a possible exclusion of Sinn fein from the White House on St Patricks Day could even be contemplated giving that absolutely no evidence has been produced linking the IRA to the Northern Bank Robbery.Fine Gael might want to consider concentrating on rectifying their own deadwood party before voiceing opinions on matters which dont concern them.

  • peteb

    Thanks for your considered opinion, Malachy.

    Cavanman

    “Fine Gael”?

  • CavanMan

    Peteb
    the Fine Gael comment concerned their motion to criticise the republican movement in the dail.
    http://www.rte.ie/news/2005/0207/northpolitics.html .it is my belief that Fine Gael should only criticise others when they get their own house in order.

  • peteb

    That’s what I thought, Cavanman.. nothing to do with THIS thread.

  • New Yorker

    Over here we do not want any SF trash entering the country, never mind attending White House on St. Patrick’s Day. It is very clear, when you are supposed to be speaking with two governments in good faith and are at the same time conspirators to hostage taking and bank robbery, you are total trash. The SF trash belong in the bin, not the White House.

  • James

    “Who gets invited to the White House is entirely a matter for President Bush and his team”.

    Gutless is as gutless does.

    Meanwhile, the governments of your islands are content to ship what you believe to be felons onto our fair shores. Why aren’t they in the dock as we speak?

    We go overboard a skosh with the Justice thing from time to time. Those sturdy Ulster Scots of whom you islanders are so fond found out about it in spades when we rammed a tax down their throats with Federal bayonets during the Whiskey Rebellion. We have impaled ourselves on the sword of Justice, giving CNN oodles of air time to broadcast our own goals all over the planet. Whack a mother holding her infant child in her arms as she answers the Federal knock on the door ; set in play the chain of events that let a slippery, gun-nut, child-molesting proselytizer hiding behind women and children burn them all to death as we overrun them with Federal tanks ….And so it goes.

    But we do something.

    So why call on us to do that which you do not have the bottle yourselves to do?

  • Davros

    I’m so looking forward to my first March 17th on Slugger. The green version of 12th July.

  • maire

    DAVROS

    Have you ever seen the St Paddy’s festivities in Belfast before and the Twelfth of July. THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE between the TWO!! One (the latter) is fuelled by pure hatred while the other is about celebrating a multi cultural event with groups from other backgrounds coming together and having a bit of craic. During the 12th there is no such occurence it is seen as a day for Protestants no one else. In Derry today the Mayor Gerry Oheara said that they are holding a cross cumminty festival. When has there ever been a cross community 12th (NOT THAT MANY CATHOLICS WOULD EVER ATTEND.)

    It is very unfair to the organisers tat yet again there is a lack of funding but that wont stop us celebrating. Perhaps the loyal brethern may not fight as much at this years 12th and the PSNI wont waste money on policing the march and there will be some funds for the Catholic community.

    In regards to the Irish minister saying that they invite people to the US festivities it is a joke. I have noticed that many have picked up on the remark.

    It is ok for the government to endorse Gerry Adams being the Grand Marshal of the New York parade in 1996!!!!!

  • peteb

    maire

    So, in relation to the original post, your comment is –

    “In regards to the Irish minister saying that they invite people to the US festivities it is a joke. I have noticed that many have picked up on the remark.”

    As for the rest of your comment.. It’s about who is invited to attend the Whitehouse event by the US President.. not just any event hosted by another organisation or group.

  • peteb

    Just a general point here and it’s not directed at anyone in particular.

    I would just note that it seems to have become generally accepted to swerve off-topic on any given thread at an early stage.

    We aren’t going anywhere people. And there are many threads over the space of a week.

    Try, whenever possible, to keep to the topic under discussion.. you never know, there may even be a time when the topic you want to comment on will come up.

  • Davros

    Maire – care to tell me what was cross-community about the St Patricks Day parade in Belfast in 2002 ( I think it was 2002) when punishment beatings were rife and in the cavalcade was a car with Garda written on the side with men in balaclavas waving
    hurleys and baseball bats to the crowd ?

    St Patrick’s Day has a long history of being a nationalist/republican festival.

  • aquifer

    Its a bit of a shame that the 12th is not more widely shared and welcoming. Weird marching band costumes, colourful cultural historic banners, some good music left still, families having a good time. English battle re-enactment freaks should be able to get into it big time. I watched it briefly once and certainly got the impression that the garden centre prods had long departed in favour of more edgy young para-military pipe bands. Hardly a hatefest tho’

  • peteb

    Davros

    Care to tell me what that has to do with the topic?

    I can confidently predict that you’ll be able to indulge in a discussion on that particular issue in a couple of months time.

  • Mark McGregor

    ‘care to tell me what was cross-community about the St Patricks Day parade in Belfast in 2002 ( I think it was 2002) when punishment beatings were rife and in the cavalcade was a car with Garda written on the side with men in balaclavas waving hurleys and baseball bats to the crowd ‘

    Davros,

    Most of that is wrong. There was a spoof Garda car. The driver and passenger wore white shirts with tie. I think they even had peaked caps but no balaclavas. The hurley and bat bit is complete rubbish too.

  • Davros

    Care to tell me what that has to do with the topic?

    Pete – we are discussing SF and St Patrick’s day.
    St Patrick’s day isn’t cross community. Banning SF from St Patrick’s day would be like banning the Blackmen from Scarva.

    I can confidently predict that you’ll be able to indulge in a discussion on that particular issue in a couple of months time.

    The same could be said about the attendance of SF at the US St Patrick’s day. Even if a decison was announced today that they weren’t being invited does anybody think that that decision wouldn’t be altered if and when movement occurs ?

  • Davros

    Mark – that wasn’t what was reported in the media at the time.

  • peteb

    Davros

    That’s a comment that doesn’t flatter you at all. You usually have more to contribute to a discussion than that.

  • Malachy

    Back to the point,

    1) the Irish Government is being met by a guy who is about to retire from the Bush administration. This illustrates that the Irish Peace Process is not important to Bush.

    and 2) instructions from the Washington Post to the White House are about as useful as instructions from The Sun to 10 Downing Street.

    It is interesting though to see that their view is that Bertie is also trying to undermine Sinn fein’s credibility with the US government. Something he would probably not have tried with a Democratic administration.

  • Davros

    Pete – I think we are back to familiar territory.
    St Patrick’s day has huge political and cultural significance around the world. It has little religious significance. If we are going to discuss it then the discussion should be open and honest.
    For example – surely SF should be saying that they don’t want to go to the Whitehouse as a protest against US policies and actions with which they disagree ?

  • peteb

    Your “for example”, Davros, is a perfectly valid point.

    Malachy

    “..their view[Washington Post?] is that Bertie is also trying to undermine Sinn fein’s credibility with the US government..”?

    It is always more convincing if you provide a quote, or two, to justify such a claim.