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Gerry Adams meeting Bill Clinton at the Guinness Storehouse in 2000. Alamy Stock Photo
Sinn Féin

Bill Clinton and Gerry Adams to share the stage at Good Friday Agreement event in New York

Bill Clinton famously decided to grant the former Sinn Féin leader a US Visa in 1994.

Christina Finn reports from New York

FORMER US PRESIDENT Bill Clinton and the former leader of Sinn Fein Gerry Adams are set to share a stage at a 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement event in New York.

Adams will taking part in the event organised by Irish American organisations next month.

The two politicians will take part in a panel discussion at the event. 

Clinton famously decided to grant the former Sinn Féin leader a US Visa in 1994, much to the anger of the UK Government at the time. 

British officials were said to be “apoplectic” about the granting of a US visa waiver to Adams but subsequently accepted it was “beneficial”.

State papers released two years ago from the period demonstrate London’s opposition to the proposed US visa to the Sinn Féin president, with an Irish government document indicating that British officials said there would be “hell to pay” if the visa was granted. 

It was argued that a visit by Adams to the US would allow him convince IRA supporters in the US to support the both governments’ plans and a ceasefire. 

The documents show concerns among US officials about allowing Adams enter the US, with a member of the National Security Council saying there was a “strong resistance to him”. 

President Bill Clinton intervened to ensure the visa was granted to Adams ahead of a conference in New York. 

SDLP Party leader at the time John Hume was in favour of US officials granting the visa waiver to Adams with SDLP deputy leader Seamus Mallon opposed.  

Speaking about the decision in 2015, Hillary Clinton said her husband Bill’s decision to grant the Sinn Féin leader a US Visa helped bring about peace in Northern Ireland.

Coordinator for the event in April, Marty Glennon said Irish America has been “steadfast” in support of the peace agreement, stating: 

“We look back with pride, and we look to the future with optimism and hope that we realize fully the promise of the agreement.”

Among the organisations taking part includes the Ladies Ancient Order of Hibernians, James Connolly Labour Coalition, Brehon Law Society and Friends of Sinn Fein.

Cathy Stanton, Brehon Law Society president, Nassau County, said: “The Good Friday agreement is a shining example of what can be accomplished if all parties truly share a desire for peace. But the desire for peace is not enough.

Mark Guilfoyle, Friends of Sinn Fein president, added: “We look back with pride to the events of April 1998 and to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement. Ireland is changing, and the agreement endures as we navigate a peaceful and democratic pathway to a new and united Ireland.

“Irish Americans will remain in lock step with the wishes of the people of Ireland.”

The event will take place in New York on 3 April.

With reporting by Press Association

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