Senator Kennedy snubs Adams as US recoils at IRA crime

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The Independent Online

Senator Edward Kennedy has called off talks with the leader of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, which will further isolate the party in America.

Senator Edward Kennedy has called off talks with the leader of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams, which will further isolate the party in America.

Mr Kennedy's move follows President George Bush's decision to refuse to meet Mr Adams at the White House on Thursday. Nor will Mr Adams be attending the St Patrick's Day lunch hosted by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert. Sinn Fein had already decided against fundraising during the trip after concerns that it might jeopardise visa applications.

Alleged IRA links to the murder of Robert McCartney in Belfast and the £26m Northern Bank raid have displeased the American Republican party and Mr Adams is expected to face a barrage of tough questions in the US.

Mr Kennedy's spokeswoman, Melissa Wagoner, said: "Senator Kennedy has decided to decline to meet with Gerry Adams, given the IRA's ongoing criminal activity and contempt for the rule of law.

"The IRA murder of Robert McCartney and subsequent calls for vigilante justice underscore the need for IRA violence and criminality to stop and for Sinn Fein to co-operate with the Police Service of Northern Ireland."

Meanwhile, the party's most high-profile supporter in Congress, the New York Republican Senator Peter King, called on the IRA to disband.

Mr King said the IRA had made a series of poor decisions that had sparked anger in Irish-American circles. It was now standing in the way of a power-sharing deal between Sinn Fein and Ian Paisley's Democratic Unionists, he said.

Americans were finding it "hard to see what the justification is for the continued existence of the IRA," he added.

In Belfast yesterday, pressure rose again on Sinn Fein when Mr McCartney's family challenged the party's fitness for government after Cora Groogan, one of its candidates for the Stormont parliament, admitted that she was in Magennis's bar on the night Mr McCartney was murdered. Ms Groogan denies seeing anything out of the ordinary.

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