Restrictions on Gerry Adams visa to US would be misguided
An Irish Times report this morning quotes US State Department sources saying that the US Administration is planning to place a restriction on Gerry Adams visa and ban him from speaking at fundraising events in the United States. Sinn Féin's Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness has described such a move as "wholly negative" and said it will "be used by anti-agreement unionists, including the DUP, to undermine the progress that has been made this year and damage the hopes for progress in the months ahead. It is important that this matter is resolved as speedily as possible".
Mr. McGuinness said:
"These fundraising events allow supporters of Irish unity to contribute to Sinn Féin's political programme to achieve this through peaceful and democratic activity. Such support is entirely legitimate and indeed necessary in demonstrating that politics works.
"The US has played a pivotal role in the creation and evolution of the peace process. An even handed approach has been the hallmark of success in this. All parties have been treated equally. However any heavy handed attempt by the State Department to try and dictate Sinn Féin policy on policing is misguided and will do nothing to help in the resolution of this key issue.
"Sinn Féin knows what we have to do on policing, our position is very clear. The British Government also knows what it has to do on policing. It has given a series of commitments on this. The upcoming period will provide ample opportunities to establish whether these commitments have been honoured. President Bush's special envoy Mitchell Reiss knows this and he and the State Department have been fully briefed on our party's position.
"If Gerry Adams has restrictions imposed on his visa this means you would have the ludicrous and unsustainable situation where he is allowed to travel to the US, but he would be banned from attending the fundraising event which will go ahead in any event.
"If Gerry Adams is banned from addressing US citizens at fundraising events next week he will not travel to the United States. Of course he and others in the Sinn Féin leadership will continue to engage with US opinion and he will travel there as part of that engagement in the time ahead.
"The adoption of this position by the US Administration would cause huge anger among supporters of the peace process in Irish America especially and is out of step with, for example the British governments approach. There is no ban on Gerry Adams attending fundraising events in Britain.
"Inevitably, such a wholly negative approach by the US would have serious political repercussions and would be used by anti-agreement unionists, including the DUP, to undermine the progress that has been made this year and damage the hopes for progress in the months ahead. It is important that this matter is resolved as speedily as possible."ENDS