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Secret Service's 'regret' over Adams' White House barring

By Philip Ryan

The US Secret Service has said it "regrets" the controversy surrounding Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams's attendance at a St Patrick's Day event in the White House hosted by President Barack Obama.

Mr Adams reacted angrily after he was forced to undergo a security check before attending the prestigious Shamrock Ceremony and accused the US Government of treating Sinn Fein "differently" to other political parties.

In a scathing attack on the White House, Mr Adams said Sinn Fein will "not sit at the back of the bus for anyone", in reference to civil rights activist Rosa Parks.

Last night the US Secret Service released a statement saying the delay in processing Mr Adams was due to the an "administrative input error".

"The Secret Service would like to express our regret that the issue involving Mr Gerry Adams' entry into the St Patrick's Day reception could not be resolved in a more timely manner.

"Unfortunately, an administrative input error received by the Secret Service was not able to be rectified promptly," it said.

Fine Gael Wexford TD Michael D'Arcy hit back at Mr Adams, saying he was "a long way from Rosa Parks".

"He's not the first or last politician to go through security checks in the White House.

"Gerry expects preferential treatment wherever he goes, but you don't get much preferential treatment in the White House," added Mr D'Arcy.

The Sinn Fein leader was invited to the White House event along with his deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. However, on arrival the Louth TD was told by staff there was a security issue which needed to be addressed before he was let in to the event, attended by an array of US and foreign dignitaries.

He was reportedly detained by White House security officers for up to 90 minutes before deciding to cut his losses and leave.

In a statement released yesterday, Mr Adams said: "When I arrived the staff at the White House informed me that there was an issue of 'security'.

"After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless meetings in the White House with successive US Presidents, this is an unacceptable development.

"It is obvious that there remain some within the US administration who seek to treat Sinn Fein differently."

Mr Adams said last year the US State Department initially refused to meet him during talks on restoring political stability in Northern Ireland.

The Sinn Fein leader met the Congressional Friends of Ireland, a political lobby group in the US, which Mr Adams said shared his "grave disappointment".

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