Adams has to settle for Ahern meeting after President's snub

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The Independent US

Gerry Adams spent St Patrick's Day in Washington yesterday, just as he has for the past 10 years. But, as all the world surely knew, the entries in his diary for 17 March had some glaring omissions. Most obviously of all, he had no appointment at the White House.

Gerry Adams spent St Patrick's Day in Washington yesterday, just as he has for the past 10 years. But, as all the world surely knew, the entries in his diary for 17 March had some glaring omissions. Most obviously of all, he had no appointment at the White House.

The day began with a lengthy interview on National Public Radio's breakfast programme, the equivalent of the Today Show on the BBC, where, inevitably, his main task was defending Sinn Fein against accusations it has not done enough to bring about the disbanding of the IRA.

Such has been his task all week, as he has struggled to downplay the significance of the decision of many American politicians to close their doors to him this week. He suggested that the only political figure actually to snub him was Senator Edward Kennedy. "I don't try to hide my disappointment," Mr Adams said.It emerged later that Mr Adams met the Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern, for almost an hour to discuss options needed to get the peace process back on track. They agreed to meet again on their return to Ireland.

Mr Adams said: "The peace process is in serious difficulties at this time. It was a useful meeting and an opportunity to focus on how we can collectively resolve the outstanding issues."

On the charge that Sinn Fein has not done enough to close down the IRA, Mr Adam's asked for time and some forbearance. "I want to see an end to the IRA," he insisted. "But no one should think that what the British Government could not do in 30 years of war... the likes of me have the possibility [of doing]."

Also scratched off his calendar was the annual congressional lunch in honour of St Patrick's Day hosted by the Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. No political leaders were invited to the meal this year.

Not everyone in Washington was turning their back on Mr Adams. Peter King, a congressman from New York, who has also spoken this week to rebuke Sinn Fein for its continuing IRA ties, received the Sinn Fein leader in his Capitol Hill office in the afternoon.

Mr Adams was not bereft entirely of chances to celebrate St Patrick's Day. One party he was invited to was the shindig at the Irish embassy last night where he again met the Taoiseach.

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