Gerry Adams: “It is no skin off my nose not to meet the [US] State Department.”

Did the US State Department cancel a planned meeting by a “high-level US state department official” with the Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams, TD,  after Sinn Féin withdrew support for the welfare reform bill, as the BBC, and others, have been reporting?  Gerry Adams’ latest statement would tend to suggest that they did.  Here’s what the Sinn Féin press release says

[Gerry Adams]: “The State Department’s handling of the issue of a meeting with me is bizarre. It serves no purpose other than to distract attention from the main issue. That is the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement. That is Sinn Féin’s main focus. And Martin McGuinness and Peter Robinson are working on this as we speak.

“It is no skin off my nose not to meet the State Department.

Except that when the BBC started reporting the story, Mr Adams’ spokesman told them from New York that there was no planned meeting and that someone was out to cause “mischief”.  As BBC NI’s Gareth Gordon tweeted

That was followed up today by Sinn Féin’s Conor Murphy, MP, keeping to the then-party-line, speaking at Stormont…

 Mr Murphy said: “Gerry Adams was actually asked for a meeting today by the State Department.

“He’s in New York city today, he’s unable to go Washington until tomorrow and so no other meeting has been confirmed after that.

Until Gerry Adams’ latest statement changed the party-line…

BBC NI’s Gareth Gordon again,

[“Bizarre”, indeed. – Ed]

Adds According to a RTÉ report

A Sinn Féin spokesperson said that Mr Adams never had any confirmed meeting with the State Department during his trip.

There had been what was described as a bit of ‘back and forward’ about trying to arrange a meeting but it was proving difficult to match up schedules.

Mr Adams has now arranged a meeting with an official from the State Department tomorrow [Tues 17 March] but there are no further details regarding a time as of yet.

[So why the drama, Gerry? – Ed] Bizarre, indeed…

Update So that’s why the drama… From the BBC report (17 March)

A US State Department official is to meet Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams on St Patrick’s Day in Washington DC.

The State Department said the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs, Julieta Valls Noyes, would meet Mr Adams.

She has also met SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell and UUP leader Mike Nesbitt.

The State Department postponed Mr Adams’ meeting with Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken because of Stormont’s crisis over welfare reform.

In a statement, it said: “Given the ongoing efforts to reach a durable accord on welfare reform to get implementation of the Stormont House agreement back on track, we postponed all of Deputy Secretary Blinken’s meetings with Northern Ireland officials until such agreement is reached.

“This included meetings with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, as well as Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness, who determined that the best course of action would be to postpone their travel to Washington and continue negotiations in Belfast.” [added emphasis]

[And Gerry was the only one to make a scene? – Ed] Can you find the deputy assistant secretary for European and Eurasian affairs in the US State Department’s Organization Chart? [Don’t they know who Gerry is?! – Ed] Well, he’s not a Northern Ireland ‘official’ anymore… [Partitionist! – Ed] Indeed.