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Invite ex-IRA boss to White House, says minister

Former IRA leader, Sean Garland, wanted in the US over a massive dollar counterfeiting racket should instead be invited to the White House for St Patrick's Day, a church minister has said.

Reverend Chris Hudson has demanded the extradition order on Garland be dropped and that the veteran republican be recognised for his work on the peace process.

Mr Garland, 76, an ex-president of the leftist Workers' Party, is fighting court proceedings by US authorities who want him for questioning about the large-scale forgery of almost perfect US dollars - dubbed "super-dollars" - almost two decades ago.

Representatives from across the political spectrum, North and South, including members of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael, Labour, Sinn Fein, the UUP and PUP have opposed his extradition.

Rev Hudson, minister of All Souls Unitarian Church in Belfast, has gone one step further by demanding a Washington reception to recognise his efforts in helping to secure peace.

"Leading political figures in the North know about the role Sean played in the peace process going back to the 1970s," he said. "Sean Garland is not only an innocent man but an Irish patriot who dedicated his life to progressive causes and to ending political violence.

"The American government should not only lift the extradition warrant and bin it, but invite him to the White House on St Patrick's Day next year to acknowledge his contribution to the peace process."

Mr Garland was arrested in Dublin last year in a second attempt by the US to extradite him.

He is wanted for questioning about a suspected conspiracy to undermine the US currency by distributing millions of counterfeit 100-dollar notes worldwide, in an operation allegedly involving the North Korean government.

Several councils and local authorities in Ireland have passed motions opposing his extradition in a campaign that has been backed by academics, artists, writers and lawyers.

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