Behind the scenes intrigue in US over SF…

AFTER all the hoo-haa over the BBC’s ill-informed report about what Ted Kennedy said on the Sinn Fein fundraising ban in America, it emerged that there is still a little controversy in the pot. The Boston Globe reports that Massachusetts lawmakers “were divided yesterday over a demand for Irish Republican Army cooperation in the police investigation of Robert McCartney’s slaying. The split produced competing ”Friends of Ireland” letters that members of Congress typically sign each year during St. Patrick’s Day”. Meanwhile, the McCartney and Rafferty families, who met President Bush, have said they were “considering legal action to freeze Sinn Fein’s fundraising assets in the US in a bid to force republicans to help convict the killers”. Wonder if Mitchel Reiss had a hand in any of that, as SF would perhaps believe, but was it someone else…? Will SF have to come up with a new term – ‘USAcrats’ anyone?!

Irish Voice reports that there have been apparent moves to undermine Reiss from within the White House:

Instead, the final say on Irish policy now appears to have reverted to the office of National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley. There appears to be little if any sense of what the Irish issue is about over there, and there is no question that an anti-Sinn Fein mood has begun to prevail.

All of which is very regrettable, as key decisions on how best to help the Irish situation should be made by men like Reiss, who are acutely aware of the sensibilities involved. Instead we have a one size fits all approach by the National Security Council and the administration.

The coda seems to be that putting pressure on Sinn Fein by leaving White House St. Patrick’s Day invites to the party leaders to the last second, by withholding fundraising and by giving major access to the president to opponents of Sinn Fein is the way forward.

Funny, we thought those kind of tactics were tried for 30 years or so by the British government and, to a lesser extent, the Irish, and they led nowhere.

Reiss may be no George Mitchell, but he always impressed as a decent and thoughtful spokesman who was doing his best on Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, his own administration has now completely undermined him with the decision to bar Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams from fundraising here.

The Irish Echo also suspects that there’s unwelcome involvement in US policy regarding Ireland, from the same quarter, the National Security Council.

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From glancing at a couple of newspapers in the shop earlier, IIRC there were also reports of a separate legal move to sue the Libyan government in the USA by unionist victims of IRA violence. Gaddafi supplied weapons to the IRA, and they believe there is a greater chance of success by fighting the case in America.

It sounds unlikely, but the US legal system can throw some bizarre results up sometimes.