Gonzo blogged the US Government’s refusal of a visa for Sinn Féin’s Rita O’Hare yesterday. In today’s Irish Times Conor O’Clery has the official explanation. Strictly speaking Rita O’Hare and other SF representatives are ineligible for a visa.. but have been allowed to travel under the conditions of a waiver. Those conditions specify that an itinery for each visit must be produced in advance.. and adhered to.. which on her last visit Rita O’Hare failed to do.From the Irish Times –
Like many Sinn Féin figures, Ms O’Hare is ineligible for a US visa because of her past association with the IRA and must apply for a waiver for each visit. A waiver has been granted regularly in the last six years, allowing Ms O’Hare to make frequent visits to the US as Sinn Féin’s Washington representative.
One of the rules of the waiver is that the person applying must provide a detailed itinerary, giving details of what places are to be visited in the US.
It is understood that on a recent visit with Sinn Féin negotiator Gerry Kelly, Ms O’Hare notified the State Department of her intention to visit New York, where she had arranged to meet Bill Flynn, chairman of Mutual of America and a major supporter of the peace process.
However, Mr Flynn was in Florida and the Sinn Féin representative flew to see him there, though it was not on her official itinerary.[emphasis added]
Conor O’Clery notes, however, that “The action of the State Department is being interpreted by some Irish-Americans as a shot across the bows for Sinn Féin, while Washington awaits the IRA’s response to Gerry Adams’s call to the IRA to engage in purely political and democratic activity.”[emphasis, again, added]