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McGuinness - Concern at US decision to refuse visa waiver

21 May, 2005


Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness and party representative to the US Rita O‚Hare met the US Ambassador to Ireland, James Kenny this morning to update him on the peace process. Mr. McGuinness, who is due to travel to the US next week, said that the party is concerned at the refusal to grant a visa waiver to party representative Rita O'Hare for this trip.

Mr. McGuinness said:

"This morning Rita O'Hare and I met the US Ambassador James Kenny to update him on the peace process and to discuss the need for intensive efforts to get the process back on track.

"Sinn Féin believes that there is now a real opportunity to complete the work of bringing about a lasting peace in Ireland. We have been in contact with the Irish and British governments and the White House in recent days to get the process back on track. And I am due to travel to the US next week to meet with the US Administration, members of Congress and Irish American organisations.

"We are concerned, however, at the refusal to grant a visa waiver to party representative Rita O'Hare who has been travelling to the US for almost seven years promoting the peace process, regularly meeting with US politicians and Irish America.

"Huge concern has been expressed by our friends in the US at the decision and many members of Congress have voiced their protest to US Envoy Mitchell Reiss and the State Department.

"According to a report in the Irish Times the reason being used to justify the decision is a change of venue for an already scheduled meeting with someone who is a key player in securing peace and democracy in Ireland. It is worth noting that since January Ms O Hare has applied for and received two visa waivers to visit the US in March and April.

"I welcome the State Department's statement that there has been no change in policy with regard to Sinn Féin."ENDS

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