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Mary Lou on not being invited to the White House: 'I don't feel snubbed'

Former Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr have been invited.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald
Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald
Image: Niall Carson

SINN FÉIN LEADER Mary Lou McDonald said she is not fazed by not being invited to attend the White House tomorrow.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar is in Washington DC this week to mark St Patrick’s Day. He will meet with US President Donald Trump tomorrow.

It has long been tradition for the leader of Sinn Féin to also attend, however, the leader of the party has always been Gerry Adams.

This year, neither of the leaders of Sinn Féin or the DUP were invited to the White House for the traditional St Patrick’s Day reception.

While Mary Lou McDonald and Arlene Foster failed to receive an invite, Adams and DUP MP Ian Paisley Jr have been asked to come along.

Speaking to reporters in Washington DC this afternoon, McDonald said she was not concerned about being left out of the celebrations tomorrow, adding that the White House was justified in inviting Adams this year.

Snubbed 

“I don’t feel that I was snubbed, it is a matter for the White House who they invite as their guests. Of course Gerry should attend, this year marks the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

“There are many celebrations marking that occasion and it is entirely appropriate that Gerry Adams as one of the main architects of that agreement would be at the White House. So, no he should not snub the White House, he shouldn’t be snubbing anybody. This is a big moment for us to defend the Good Friday Agreement,” she said.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie last month, McDonald said Adams was a valuable asset to her party, hinting that she sees Adams playing more of a role internationally.

Her last visit to the White House

She recalled that she has only attended the White House on one previous occasion – the year that Adams was not allowed in.

Taoiseach visits United States of America Former Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams Source: Niall Carson

I was only in it once. The year that there was all the confusion about Gerry not being let in. I was standing there and I said I will wait with you Gerry. He said, ‘No, go on in’. I said, ‘No, I’ll wait with you.’

“We waited and waited. We met everybody on the way in, I was saying, ‘Hello congressman, hello senator.’ It was nearly finished, so Gerry said, ‘For the love of God, just go.’ I said: ‘Are you sure?’ He said yes. I walked off and I had literally taken three steps away and I heard him whisper: ‘Traitor.’ I didn’t live that one down, I was the deserter, I left him to fend for himself,” she said, jokingly.

Seemingly on the same page when it comes to  what role the US can play in Irish politics, McDonald reiterated points made by the Taoiseach yesterday – that the US should help get the Northern Ireland power-sharing government back on its feet.

Leo Varadkar said yesterday that the US administration has clout and the power to exert pressure on both the Northern Ireland political parties as well as the British government.

“America can bring something positive to bear, and make a positive contribution to our process,” she said.

Special envoy to Northern Ireland

The Sinn Féin president also announced that she had attended a meeting with the US State Department today where the it confirmed that a special envoy to Northern Ireland would be appointed.

Tweet by @TheJournal Politics Source: TheJournal Politics/Twitter

Earlier this year, Tánaiste Simon Coveney visited the former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, whereby it was announced that a new envoy would be announced.

However, questions about the position were raised following Tillerson’s departure yesterday.

McDonald confirmed that preparations are already underway for someone to be appointed to the role, though no specific names were mentioned.

TheJournal.ie’s political reporter Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Leo Varadkar’s visit to Washington this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Stay up-to-date by following @ChristinaFinn8@TJ_Politics  and TheJournal.ie’s Facebook page.     

If Trump visits Ireland, Leo would like to show him the border with Northern Ireland>

If Trump visits Ireland, Leo would like to show him the border with Northern Ireland>

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