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US Congressman Peter King who backed IRA to retire from politics

US Congressman Peter King with former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams (right) in Washington in 2001
US Congressman Peter King with former Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams (right) in Washington in 2001

By Staff Reporter

The New York congressman who acted as a go-between for former US president Bill Clinton and Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams during the peace process is to step down from politics.

Peter King (75) will not seek re-election in 2020.

Elected for 14 consecutive terms since 1993, he said he wanted "flexibility to spend more time" with his children and grandchildren.

A proud Irish American, he is the longest-serving Republican member of New York's congressional delegation.

In the 1980s, King was closely linked to the nationalist fundraising group Noraid and proclaimed: "If civilians are killed in an attack on a military installation it is certainly regrettable, but I will not morally blame the IRA for it."

In 2011, the congressman defended his support, telling broadcaster CNN: "I knew what was happening in Northern Ireland, and with the IRA. The IRA was a legitimate force, they'd been there for 40 years, 60 years, any way you want to look at it."

But in the 1990s, he played a key role in talks which led to peace in Northern Ireland under the Good Friday Agreement.

In 2009, it was reported that Barack Obama offered King the chance to be US ambassador to Ireland but he declined.

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