Adams says talks breakthrough is a 'tiny possibility'

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, feted in New York by supporters of Irish nationalism, conceded last night that he saw a "very tiny possibility that there may be a breakthrough" in talks that resume today between parties in the Irish peace talks - if new concessions can be made.

Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Fein, feted in New York by supporters of Irish nationalism, conceded last night that he saw a "very tiny possibility that there may be a breakthrough" in talks that resume today between parties in the Irish peace talks - if new concessions can be made.

The remarks were made at a lunch given by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, and attended by luminaries including Arthur Schlesinger and Jean Kennedy-Smith, the former US ambassador to Ireland. They contrasted with a more sober warning he gave at a fund-raising dinner for Sinn Fein on Wednesday night, when he warned his audience that the talks could end in failure.

Accepting that the talks had hit a "rock" on the issue of decommissioning by the IRA, Mr Adams said some chance of compromise still remained. "If Sinn Fein can actually stretch themselves further than they may actually feel is possible .. and if the Unionists can stretch themselves further than they feel possible, then in that way we get a resolution."

Mr Adams has become a regular visitor to New York since the peace process first began. The city, with a centuries-old tradition of supporting Irish nationalism, can be relied upon to embrace him. But this trip stood out. It came as the Good Friday Agreement hangs by a thread. It was also his shortest - and most lucrative - Big Apple foray.

If you had heard a faint ching-ching in the ballroom of the Sheraton Hotel on Wednesday night, it was probably the chandeliers. But it might have been money. With Adams as its top-billed guest and the Irish actress, Fionnula Flanagan as MC, the event was the annual Friends of Sinn Fein Dinner. Each table had sold for $5,000 and the take was $500,000, making it Sinn Fein's most successful night of fund-raising in New York.

The showering of cash seemed to belie the notion that Ireland as a political issue in the US has slipped in the second term of the Clinton administration. "There is a sense that Adams is beleaguered and needs a lot of support," said Niall O'Dowd, publisher of the Irish Voice in New York.

Before the dinner, he was to be found in a separate reception room with the Governor of New York, George Pataki. (Yes, even he claims Irish roots. They trace back to his Irish-born grandmother, Agnes Lynch.) Mr Pataki is close to George Bush Jr, the candidate perhaps best placed to take the White House next year.

There will always be a rich seam of Irish Republican sentiment here. There are still half a million people in the city who claim Irish birth or Irish ancestry. When the IRA took up arms in the late 1960s, Noraid (Irish Northern Aid Committee) in New York sent money.

Mr Adams was on his way home last night after plans for a longer staywere abandoned because the Mitchell talks resume today.

Mr Adams is already manoeuvring in case of a Republican win in the presidential election next year and moves are already afoot in New York to create an "Irish for Bush" committee.

Comments