Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams refused entry to White House: US Secret Service apologises for 'error'
The US Secret Service has apologised to Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams for denying him entry into the White House during his St Patrick's Day visit.
In a statement on Wednesday, a spokesman said: "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."
Mr Adams was in Washington on Tuesday evening to attend the Irish community's annual St Patrick's Day reception at the White House, Irish Central has reported.
A Sinn Fein spokesman said there was an issue at the door, but he eventually got in where he met actor Richard Gere.
In a statement, the Sinn Fein president described his treatment as an “unacceptable development”.
"I had received my usual invitation to attend the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House and was pleased to accept," he 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.
“Some of our political representatives have been denied access to the USA while others, including myself, have to regularly go through additional searches and scrutiny when we travel to and from the USA.
“Last year the State Department initially refused to meet me as part of a transparent effort to pressurise Sinn Fein during negotiations at Stormont.
“That meeting did take place after protests from US political leaders. Efforts to pressurise us in the negotiations failed.
“This morning Martin McGuinness, Mary Lou McDonald and I met with the Congressional Friends of Ireland. They too shared our grave disappointment at the White House situation and expressed their determination to have this issue resolved.
My invite 2— Gerry Adams (@GerryAdamsSF) March 16, 2016
The White House. Just saying. pic.twitter.com/0fGax1LMhB
“Sinn Fein will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone. We are elected to represent citizens and we will do this. I am hopeful that the controversy around my White House invitation will help lead to a resolution of all these matters.”
The US authorities have not yet explained why Mr Adams was excluded from the event.
Mr Adams was reportedly pulled aside from other Sinn Fein personnel as he arrived at the White House alongside party vice-president Mary Lou McDonald.
According to the Irish Central, an aide to Congressman Ritchie Neal said the the Sinn Fein leader's exclusion would be immediately addressed.
Mr Adams is known to face what is called 'secondary inspection' when boarding planes to the US and accordingly is in the habit of arriving early for flights.
However, problems with entry to the White House are unheard of in recent years.
Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is believed to have entered the function unhindered.
Irish Central also reported that in his remarks President Obama lamented he was holding his last St Patrick’s Day party and referred to Irish immigrants on Famine ships and blacks on slave ships and stated he was delighted that his daughters would have different ethnic backgrounds to explore.
For his part, Enda Kenny thanked Obama for his help and support for Ireland over the past seven years and stated there would always be a place in Ireland’s heart for him.
Belfast Telegraph Digital