Belfast Telegraph

New York mayor de Blasio's ‘Gerry Adams Day’ proclamation angers unionists

In an event at Gracie Mansion, Mr Adams called for a united Ireland and a referendum on Irish unity.

New York mayor Bill de Blasio has infuriated unionists by proclaiming this year’s St Patrick’s Day as Gerry Adams Day.

He made a proclamation honouring the former Sinn Fein leader at a special event ahead of the Fifth Avenue parade.

It read: “I, Bill de Blasio, Mayor of the City of New York, do hereby proclaim March 17 2018 in the city of New York as ‘Gerry Adams Day’.”

Ulster Unionist Party MLA Steve Aiken said the mayor's "eulogy" of Gerry Adams had caused further pain to the victims of IRA terrorism.

“The proclamation was a kick in the teeth for the victims of terrorism and brings shame on the office which he holds," said Mr Steve Aiken.

"His eulogy of Adams then rubbed their noses in the dirt and has caused further pain and hurt. The truth played little role in his oration and is instead an attempt to rewrite history. The fact that he tried to tie St Patrick`s Day into it is an insult to the law abiding majority on these islands who celebrate the day."

“It is hard to believe that the Mayor of New York City, a city which has suffered so grievously at the hands of terrorists could grovel at the feet of a man who continues to be an apologist for the terrorist death squads of the Provisional IRA."

Mr de Blasio said Mr Adams did not accept injustice, he did not tolerate it and he fought against it.

“In every way he has been an activist,” he said.

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Gerry Adams appears alongside Taoiseach Leo Varadkar (Niall Carson/PA)

“I think of no prouder a title that someone can hold.

“He understood there’s no place in the world anymore for colonialism and he fought against that with all that he had.

“Remember that great ideas never die, they may be set back sometimes, but they never die. And I honour Gerry Adams for his lifelong pursuit of a goal that makes that makes so much sense, the goal of a united Ireland.

“Gerry has in all he has done, accepted that a life of fighting for change came with peril, came with the threat of violence and the experience of being attacked. It came with condemnation, it came with arrest and times in jail.”

Mr Adams said he was honoured to receive this proclamation.

“I have to say that Happy Gerry Adams Day doesn’t have the same ring as Happy St Patrick’s Day,” he said.

Mr Adams hailed New York as a great city: “I would often reflect to myself: If you can all live here in relative harmony, if you can all live here together, surely in our small island we can create the conditions where our people can live in harmony and prosperity and peace and equality together?”

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Mr Adams was hailed as for his courage and activism by the New York mayor (Niall Carson/PA)

During the event at Gracie Mansion, Mr Adams called for a united Ireland.

“We still have a lot to do, we need rights, we need equality, we need a referendum on Irish unity so the people can decide for themselves,” Mr Adams said.

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson compared de Blasio's action to a British mayor renaming St George's Day after Osama Bin Laden, the Al Qaeda leader blamed for the 2001 New York Twin Towers massacre.

The Lagan Valley MP told Sunday Life: "There is no doubt Gerry Adams made a contribution to the peace process, but to name a day after him is wrong, it shouldn't have happened.

"It's like the Mayor of London renaming St George's Day in honour of Osama Bin Laden."

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it was not helpful to call for a united Ireland and that the priority was to get the Stormont executive back up and running.

Mr Varadkar said: “It’s not our tradition to name days after any particular individual in Ireland. It is a tradition here and obviously I extend my congratulations to Gerry on that honour being bestowed on him by the city of New York.”

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