President Bush to Gerry Adams: you are no longer welcome here

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The Independent Online

President Bush has personally ordered that Gerry Adams is refused entry to official engagements during his visit to the US, a senior presidential adviser said last night. The snub emerged as the Orange Order announced yesterday it was to sever its 100-year-old links with the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP).

The US President apparently decided to give Mr Adams the cold shoulder for this year's St Patrick's Day celebrations after Mr Bush learnt that the Sinn Fein leader betrayed his efforts last year to help to restart the Northern Ireland peace process.

Mr Bush has also denied Mr Adams the chance to raise cash for his party while in the US by refusing him the category of visa which permits fundraising.

According to the Bush aide, Mr Adams has lost favour. "At the White House, Adams is now regarded with the same sort of disdain as Arafat. The President no longer considers Mr Adams a reliable partner for peace. He doesn't want to meet him," the Bush aide told The Sunday Telegraph.

The President's anger was sparked after it emerged that while he was pressing Mr Adams late last year to relaunch the power-sharing deal, Sinn Fein's armed wing - the IRA - was planning the £26m Northern Bank raid in Belfast.

While Mr Adams and other Irish political leaders are not on the White House guest list for this Thursday's celebrations, the President will welcome the sisters and fiancée of Robert McCartney, the Catholic man murdered by a gang of IRA thugs in January.

Meanwhile it was announced that the Orange Order voted to sever its links with UUP following a meeting of the Grand Lodge in East Belfast.

Its decision to pull out of the Ulster Unionist Council, the senior policy-making body of the UUP, effectively ends the order's 100 years of historical ties with the party.

Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters said: "The Loyal Orange Institution will continue to lobby for the unionist cause as events require and we will seek to establish good relationships with all those engaged in the political interests of the unionist people."

Mr Saulters added: "When the UUC was established there was only one Unionist Party. That is no longer the case and we feel that arrangements made in 1905 are no longer relevant to the political scene in Northern Ireland in 2005."