OFFICIALS at the US State Department have snubbed Gerry Adams over Sinn Féin's blocking of the Welfare Reform deal.
In a dramatic slap-down for the Sinn Féin leader, US officials refused to meet him while crisis talks continued at home to solve the welfare stand-off.
The issue caused much embarrassment and confusion for Sinn Féin, which places a lot of importance on the annual St Patrick's Day visit to Washington. The party initially claimed yesterday that no meeting between the State Department and Mr Adams had ever been confirmed. But later Adams went on the offensive accusing the US government of behaving bizarrely.
A tweet from Martin McGuinness last night stated that Mr Adams would meet with State Department officials with Adams accusing the US State Department of "hokey pokey diplomacy".
The snub came as Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin compared Sinn Féin under Gerry Adams to Fianna Fáil under the late Charlie Haughey. Writing in today's Irish Independent, Mr Howlin suggested that Sinn Féin was "addicted to crises" and suggested that last week this strategy was deployed to deflect from the Paudie McGahon sex abuse allegations. "I would like to think that it is untrue but with Sinn Féin anything is possible," he wrote. Mr Howlin said that the actions of Sinn Féin over the past week reveal the underlying principle in Sinn Féin politics - what's in Sinn Féin's interest is in the national interest.
"Not unlike what Fianna Fáil were like under Haughey. Instead of rise and follow Charlie, it's rise and follow Gerry," he said.
Mr Adams is due to attend a large St Patrick's Day reception in the White House today, but there is no high level meeting and no face to face time with the president.
Reacting to the snub, Adams said: "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. I am more concerned with protecting the rights and entitlements of citizens back home. That will remain Sinn Féin's firm objective."
Meanwhile, it has emerged that an IRA rapist who groomed a 12-year-old girl for sex was later held by "army" leaders before being forced to leave Ireland.
A secret document which refers to an internal Sinn Féin "inquiry" into IRA abusers states the man was imprisoned by the IRA for three months after the allegations surfaced.
The document states the man, known to be from Belfast, was sanctioned by the IRA for grooming the child of a leading republican family. The 2006 "inquiry" allegedly learnt the man was held in "army" custody before being let go. However, it states the man was warned never to return to Ireland or he would face being shot. It is understood the man may now be living in France.