In spite of the headline on the BBC report, “Adams protest at visa restrictions”, it’s actually a statement by Martin McGuiness, also reported here, who has stated that Adams will not go to the US if he is not allowed to fundraise at events. But I’m intrigued by this part of his argument “These fundraising events allow supporters of Irish unity to contribute to Sinn Fein’s political programme to achieve this through peaceful and democratic activity. Such support is entirely legitimate and indeed necessary in demonstrating that politics works.“[emphasis added] So, Sinn Féin believe that collecting funds in the US is necessary in demonstrating that politics works in Ireland? Really??
The statement is a response to a report, in the Irish Times yesterday [subs req] which said –
The United States government is set to deny Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams permission to raise funds when he visits the country next week.
State department sources told The Irish Times that Washington is unlikely to drop its ban on visiting Sinn Féin politicians raising money in the US until the party makes a move towards joining the North’s policing board.
and noted the comments of Irish Government Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern –
Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern told The Irish Times that the Government had made no representations to Washington on behalf of Sinn Féin.
“I don’t see it as the Government’s place to tell the US government what they should or should not do in relation to fundraising by another political party,” he said. “I think it’s a matter entirely for the US administration to decide who should or should not fundraise within their territory.”
It’s also worth pointing out that in today’s Irish Times Denis Staunton reports that [subs req again] –
The US administration has told The Irish Times that a commitment from Sinn Féin to join the North’s policing board is not a precondition for Gerry Adams being allowed to raise funds when he visits the US next week.
Administration sources said that US officials cited in a report in yesterday’s paper did not accurately reflect official policy.
And carried these comments by Mitchell Reiss –
The US special envoy for Northern Ireland, Dr Mitchell Reiss, declined to comment on the visa issue but said he hoped Mr Adams would visit Washington.
“I hope that Mr Adams will come to the United States next week in support of the peace process. The confidentiality of individual visa applications prohibits us from providing details as to its status,” he said.