Adams drops US fundraising trip after visa restrictions

SINN Féin leader Gerry Adams last night denounced as “amateurish” restrictions placed on him by the US State Department on a visa to travel to New York this week.

He dropped plans to take part in a fundraising dinner for his party because he claimed the US government was imposing restrictions on him in a bid to force Sinn Fein to endorse current policing structures in Northern Ireland.

But he will fulfil a visit to Toronto on Saturday which had been planned to end a brief North American tour.

“I have been told I do not have permission to fund raise in the United States.

“I have to say that this is a rather amateurish effort by elements within the US administration to get Sinn Féin to change our position on policing.

“Our position on policing is very clear. The British government has agreed to honour certain commitments. I am committed if and when they do that to go to the Sinn Féin árd chomhairle (national executive) to deal with the issue of policing.

“These positions are matters of public record.”

Sinn Féin is the only one of the four biggest parties in Northern Ireland to refuse to take its seat on policing accountability structures like the Northern Ireland Policing Board.

It has also refused to encourage its supporters to co-operate with and consider joining the Police Service of Northern Ireland because it argues reforms have not gone far enough.

The party has been pressing the British Government to commit itself to the transfer of policing and justice powers to a future power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland. But it has been criticised for failing to sign up to policing and recognise the changes that have taken place.

Mr Adams was to take part in the Friends of Sinn Féin annual fundraising dinner in New York this week and had also planned meetings with US politicians before heading to Canada.

He was also due to receive an award from the National Committee on American Foreign Policy headed by Irish-American businessman Bill Flynn.

Sinn Féin sources last night claimed the visa would have let Mr Adams to attend the prize-giving ceremony which was a fundraising event for that organisation, but would have been banned from attending the Friends of Sinn Féin event. “The visa position, as I understand it, is absurd,” the Sinn Féin leader said.

“It appears they expect me to go to New York and not go to any fundraising event. I am a busy man and have no wish to be just sitting around in New York.

“What they are doing is robbing me of the opportunity to convey to thousands of supporters in the United States the progress that has been made recently and the progress that can be made in the months ahead.”

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