Bombs appal US Irish

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AS THE White House surveys its own options on Northern Ireland, it knows that most of the powerful Irish-American community are appalled at the IRA's resumption of violence.

Tom Quinn, a Washington lawyer who accompanied President Clinton on his trip to Belfast last year, summed up the view of all but the most dyed-in-the wool supporters of Noraid. "I have spoken to hundreds of people and we all feel the same," he said. "This is barbarism."

The community's main newspapers, the Irish Voice and the Irish Echo, have been swamped with letters from shocked readers. A Voice editorial described the reaction to the first bomb as "a sickening heave of the stomach". The "shadowy men" of the IRA had made "the propects of peace ever more distant".

Niall O'Dowd, publisher of the Voice, and one of the prominent Irish- Americans who acted as unofficial peace emissaries for the Clinton administration, said this outrage had serious implications for Sinn Fein. "Adams is the most popular Irish politician of this generation in America," he said. "He's having difficulties now - the Sinn Fein people here are extremely upset - but people understand those difficulties."

Although such leading figures as Daniel Patrick Moynihan and John McCain, a Democrat and Republican respectively, last week asked the President to deny Mr Adams entry into the US, Mr O'Dowd does not believe this will happen, but he says: "Fund-raising for Sinn Fein is in danger."

Since the White House resumed official American links with Sinn Fein, the organisation has raised $1.35m in the US. Suspending permission to raise further funds is one of the options available to Mr Clinton. This would not only please London, it would appease Mr Moynihan and Mr McCain .

A third alternative open to Mr Clinton would be to grant the visa but deny Mr Adams high-level official access, in the manner of the British and Irish governments.