Leader of Sinn Fein to visit Commons

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GERRY ADAMS, president of Sinn Fein, has accepted an invitation from the Labour MP Tony Benn to address a meeting at the House of Commons.

Labour has urged its MPs to boycott the visit, while the Conservative Party said it was 'inconceivable' any of its MPs would attend.

No date has been fixed for the open meeting with MPs and reporters. Mr Adams said: 'People in Britain have a right to know what its government is doing in Ireland in their name, and to hear from Irish republicans about a peace strategy which can end the conflict.'

Mr Benn said: 'I think a lot of people would welcome him coming over to explain his views. It's a good time to do it because things are moving very rapidly towards a peace process.'

But a Labour spokesman said: 'Gerry Adams is an apologist for the atrocities of the IRA. The Labour Party totally rejects his views and his policies. No representative of the Labour Party should provide him with a platform. We condemn Tony Benn's decision to invite him.'

Kevin McNamara, Labour's Northern Ireland spokesman, said he would not be attending the meeting. 'The Labour Party's policy and attitude is not to talk to the provisional Sinn Fein whilst it is still justifying terrorism in Ireland and in Great Britain. But Mr Benn is a free agent and he must take responsibility for his own actions.'

Tory MPs at the party conference in Blackpool were furious. Lady Olga Maitland, MP for Sutton and Cheam, said: 'Mr Benn is trading with terrorism in what he is doing. This man - Gerry Adams - has never respected democracy and his trade is death.

'What Tony Benn is doing in inviting him to the House of Commons means that he accepts that viewpoint. I find it horrifying and I think he should be stopped.'