Saturday 3 December 2016

Gerry Adams calls for review of US security for Sinn Fein after Martin Ferris detained for several hours in US

SF leader ridiculed after comparing himself to Rosa Parks

Published 17/03/2016 | 02:30

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Tom Burke
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams. Photo: Tom Burke
Martin Ferris. Photo: Tom Burke

Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has called for a review of US arrangements for Sinn Fein after he was refused entry to a St Patrick's Day event hosted by US President Barack Obama and fellow party member Martin Ferris was detained for several hours in Boston.

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Speaking before walking in the New York St Patrick's Day parade, the Sinn Fein President revealed Kerry TD Martin Ferris was detained by US officials yesterday  for "several hours" and had to get a later flight to Boston.

This comes after the Sinn Fein President was accused of  "narcissism" after he compared being refused entry to a St Patrick's Day event hosted by US President Barack Obama to the case of civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks.

Today, before walking in the St Patrick's Day parade in the New York Patrick's Day march, he called for the  “the full normalisation of relations between Sinn Féin and the White House, and a review of the U.S. security arrangements for Sinn Féin representatives visiting the country”.

Martin Ferris. Photo: Tom Burke
Martin Ferris. Photo: Tom Burke

Mr Adams was at the centre of an embarrassing row with the White House after he was forced to undergo a security check before attending the prestigious Shamrock Ceremony.

He accused the US government of treating Sinn Féin "differently" to other political parties.

In a scathing attack on the White House, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin would "not sit at the back of the bus for anyone", in a reference to US civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

However his comparison of his experience at the White House - where he was reportedly detained by security offices for up to 90 minutes before deciding to leave - to the courageous stand taken by the late Ms Parks has been derided by politicians at home.

Last night, Fine Gael Wexford TD Michael D'Arcy hit back at Mr Adams, saying he was "a long way from Rosa Parks".

"He's not the first or last politician to go through security checks in the White House.

"Gerry expects preferential treatment wherever he goes but you don't get much preferential treatment in the White House," said Mr D'Arcy. Fine Gael Meath East TD Regina Doherty said Mr Adams' "narcissism has reached dizzying heights".

"The distinction between Rosa Parks, the first lady of civil rights, and Gerry Adams is unparalleled," she said.

However Mr Adams defended his reference to Ms Parks.

"I mean I was invited to the place. I was there at least 30 times in the last 20 years at different events and for talks and meetings as well as for these more ceremonial celebrations of St Patrick's Day. So you know we aren't going to sit at the back of the bus," he said.

"It is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who seek to treat Sinn Féin differently."

The Sinn Féin leader was invited to the White House event along with his deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

However, on arrival Mr Adams was told by staff there was a security issue which needed to be addressed before he was granted entry.

Last night, the US Secret Service released a statement saying the delay in processing Mr Adams was due to an "administrative input error".

"The Secret Service would like to express our regret that the issue involving Mr Gerry Adams' entry into the St Patrick's Day reception could not be resolved in a more timely manner.

"Unfortunately, an administrative input error received by the Secret Service was not able to be rectified promptly," said the statement.

After the White House event, Mr McGuinness and Ms McDonald attended an Irish Embassy function in Washington. Mr Adams was not seen at the event.

At the reception in the Wilward Hotel, Mr Kenny joked that his day in Washington had "gone very well", before adding: "Bejaysus, I wish I didn't have to go back and face what I have to face but c'est la vie."

Yesterday, Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan defended Mr Kenny's unguarded comments which has become a major talking point of his State visit.

Mr Flanagan said: "I was present when the Taoiseach made a light-hearted comment and I'm disappointed that his comment has been misinterpreted (and) misunderstood."

Irish Independent

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