US Secret Service expresses regret after Gerry Adams stopped from entering White House
By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor in Washington DC
Update (9.20pm): The US Secret Service has this evening apologised to Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams after he was refused entry into the White House.
“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,” the statement read.
“Unfortunately, an administrative input error received by the Secret Service was not able to be rectified promptly.”
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams was reportedly refused entry to the White House for the St Patrick’s Day reception hosted by President Barack Obama.
According to IrishCentral.com, Mr Adams was refused entry to the event which saw acting Taoiseach Enda Kenny present Mr Obama with a bowl of Shamrock.
Mr Adams arrived with other Sinn Féin personnel including the party’s Vice President Mary Lou McDonald and Martin McGuinness.
Mr Adams was pulled aside from the other Sinn Féin members as the White House security personnel examined his documents.
According to IrishCentral.com, Mr Adams is on a list which requires him to pass through additional security checks.
He is known to face what is called “secondary inspection” when boarding planes for North America and he usually arrives very early for flights, but problems at the White House level are highly unusual.
That is because anyone attending the event is known to have been screened by the FBI and Secret Service before being issued with an official invite.
Even in cases where, for instance, an Irish passport holder may have his passport in Irish, as happened to a TD recently, usually a way around the issue is found.
However, after waiting 90 minutes and seeing no movement in the effort to gain him entrance, Mr Adams decided to leave.
This afternoon Mr Adams released a statement on White House incident.
He said: “I had received my usual invitation to attend the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House and was pleased to accept.
“When I arrived the staff at the White House informed me that there was an issue of ‘security’.
“After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless meetings in the White House with successive US Presidents, this is an unacceptable development.”
He said: “It is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who seek to treat Sinn Féin differently.
He went on: “I have to regularly go through additional searches and scrutiny when we travel to and from the USA.
“Last year the State Department initially refused to meet me as part of a transparent effort to pressurise Sinn Féin during negotiations at Stormont.
“That meeting did take place after protests from US political leaders. Efforts to pressurise us in the negotiations failed,” he added.
“This morning Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald and I met with the Congressional Friends of Ireland. They too shared our grave disappointment at the White House situation and expressed their determination to have this issue resolved.
“Sinn Féin will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone. We are elected to represent citizens and we will do this. I am hopeful that the controversy around my White House invitation will help lead to a resolution of all these matters.”
We have sought a comment from the White House, but they have not yetresponded.