THE fundraising ban slapped on Gerry Adams in America recently led to the Sinn Fein president having to address the Irish American faithful via video link. Ray O’Hanlon reports that this may even have boosted numbers to the Friends of Sinn Fein fundraiser, and the wheeze won’t have pleased the US State Department much. The reason for the stand-off between the Bush administration and SF at the minute is policing. Ambassador Mitchel Reiss wants SF to back the new policing arrangements here; I would say it’s probably his main objective in Northern Ireland, and he feels strongly that the PSNI is at the stage where republicans should accept it.
Reiss – who is meeting the Secretary of State and the McCartney sisters shortly – seems to have been prepared to play hardball. It was reported that the US fundraising ban would be lifted if Adams made positive comments about policing. In O’Hanlon’s report, Adams suggested that change would only come when the republican support base decides it will happen.
In the end, the ban – like Thatcher’s broadcasting ban on SF representatives – seems to have achieved the opposite of what it set out to do. SF will be gloating.
In the Irish News, O’Hanlon writes:
For Irish-Americans, the precise nature of future Adams visas could become an electoral football, just as the once absolute visa ban was a thorny issue pre-Bill Clinton.
Certainly, the fundraising restriction has already aroused the ire of some members of the House of Representatives and senate.
At the same time, the state department is not likely to be cowed easily.
The standoff, which swirls around Sinn Fein’s position on policing, looks like it has legs. And St Patrick’s Day isn’t too many light years away.