Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein hits out over US's 'heavy-handed' approach to security

By Kevin Doyle

Sinn Fein is to go to diplomatic war with the United States after Mary Lou McDonald was subjected to "heavy-handed and very invasive" security searches while travelling home from the United States after the St Patrick's Day festivities.

The party's deputy leader described the treatment of Sinn Fein members by the US authorities as "almost off the wall".

And Gerry Adams  has said that while he accepts the apology offered by the Secret Service for his detention on his way to the shamrock ceremony in the White House, he does not accept their explanation that it was due to an administrative error.

He now intends to write to the White House to complain, while Ms McDonald said she is to meet the US Ambassador to Ireland Kevin O'Malley.

"We represent absolutely no threat to anybody and I think they know that," she said.

Controversially, Mr Adams has likened his treatment to that of civil rights campaigner Rosa Parks, claiming Sinn Fein would not sit at the back of the bus for anybody. Ms McDonald said her party were being treated unfairly year after year but the White House incident had brought the situation "to a head".

"I'll be meeting with the ambassador - we'll be talking to the authorities because this shouldn't be happening. It's completely unnecessary," said Ms McDonald.

"The administration in the US is well aware that Sinn Fein and the leadership of Sinn Fein over many years have been architects of the peace process, are a force for good, for positivity, for democracy.

"And whereas stringent security is defensible, singling people out, it seems to me simply on the basis of your political view, is not an acceptable thing to do."

Asked if a meeting with Ms McDonald had been scheduled, a spokesperson for the US Embassy said: "The ambassador is currently traveling but he meets regularly with leaders across the political spectrum."

Eamonn McCann, Page 23

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