Sinn Fein accused of contradictory stance over US President Donald Trump invite
Sinn Fein has been accused of "riding two horses" when it comes to Donald Trump.
Gerry Adams has said he will go to the White House if invited, just days after the party's Northern Ireland leader Michelle O'Neill said she would not invite the new US President to the province.
It emerged last week that former deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had - alongside ex First Minister Arlene Foster - signed a warm letter of congratulations to Mr Trump in December when he was elected President.
The letter included an invitation to visit Northern Ireland.
But Ms O'Neill said she would not issue an invitation to Mr Trump if she was in that role.
"Since taking office, President Trump has pursued policies on immigration and the banning of refugees that runs counter to international standards and decency. I believe these are wrong and should not be imposed at Irish airports," she commented.
"The actions of President Trump since taking office mean that an invitation to visit would not now be appropriate. If I was in the Executive Office at this time, I wouldn't issue an invitation."
Just three days later Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams announced he would travel to the US for St Patrick's Day, and will attend the White House if he is invited.
Last year Mr Adams was refused entry to the St Patrick's Day event there.
He said the purpose of his 48-hour trip to the States is to "brief Irish American leaders and politicians on the negotiations in the North, Brexit and the needs of the undocumented Irish".
"At this critical time in the Irish peace process it does not make sense for Irish leaders to exclude ourselves from an opportunity to engage on critical issues like the crisis in the political institutions, Brexit, the future of the Good Friday Agreement, Irish unity and the rights of the undocumented Irish in the USA," he commented.
"I understand that all of this is happening at a time of deep concern in Ireland and globally at the actions of Donald Trump since his election as President of the United States. Sinn Fein has been to the fore in opposing these measures.
"We have raised our concerns in the Dail, written to President Trump directly to outline our opposition, and Michelle O'Neill has made clear that, if returned to the Executive, we would not issue an invite to him to visit Ireland," he added.
The SDLP has questioned Sinn Fein's position. "This year, despite Donald Trump's aggressive actions towards minorities, Adams is clamouring for a party invite again. Not only does this contradict the latest position by Sinn Fein's Northern leadership, it will offend many people who think Irish leaders should limit engagement with the Trump administration," South Belfast election candidate Claire Hanna said.
Claiming that Sinn Fein "routinely rides two horses simultaneously", she added: "Last year, the SDLP made it clear that we would not be attending social functions with Donald Trump on the back of his outrageous attacks on Muslims, women, the disabled, Mexicans and others."