Northern Ireland

Gerry Adams says he would go to White House on St Patrick's Day

Gerry Adams
Image caption Gerry Adams said St Patrick's Day was about Ireland, not Mr Trump

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has said he would attend a St Patrick's Day White House reception if invited.

He was speaking after an event commemorating the 25th anniversary of the shooting dead of three people by an off-duty RUC officer in 1992.

Earlier, this week Sinn Féin's leader at Stormont, Michelle O'Neill, said an invitation to President Donald Trump to visit NI was no longer appropriate.

Mr Adams said St Patrick's Day was about Ireland, not Mr Trump.

"I'll be there, if the negotiations allow me, to engage with Irish America, with our friends in Capitol Hill, with the undocumented Irish," he said.

"I haven't been invited to the White House. If I am invited, of course I would go."

The SDLP said Sinn Féin's hypocrisy was "breathtaking"

"If Adams goes to the White House he will be representing Sinn Féin only - he has no government or economic role to hide behind," the party's Claire Hanna said.

"There is no doubt that party representatives will join in condemning Trump's actions, but they should be asking the Sinn Féin president whether he prioritises principles and solidarity with those at risk because of Trump, or Sinn Féin's fundraising machine."

Trump invitation

It was revealed earlier this week that Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness had extended a formal invitation to President Trump to visit Northern Ireland.

The move was criticised by some other parties.

He said it was "astounding" that Mrs Foster and Mr McGuinness had been "eager to appease a man of his character and sell out their principles so quickly".

The Alliance Party's Stewart Dickson described the invitation as "premature", adding if a visit does happen it should not be an "exercise in toadying and sycophancy".

But the Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt backed the invitation, arguing that "on this occasion" Mrs Foster and Mr McGuinness had "got something right in trying to get the leader of the wealthiest nation in the world to visit Northern Ireland".

Commenting on Sinn Féin being invited to the White House, the DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson tweeted that Mr Trump may "conclude it no longer appropriate to invite some with terrorist convictions to the White House".

Belfast protest

Meanwhile, about 200 people attended a protest in Belfast against Mr Trump's ban on travellers from seven mainly Muslim countries.

Other similar demonstrations were held in cities across the UK with the biggest taking place in London.

Image caption Around 200 people gathered outside Belfast City Hall in protest against Mr Trump's ban on travellers from seven mainly Muslim countries.

Muslim community representative Dr Raied Al-Wazzan said many Muslims in Northern Ireland would be affected by the ban.

"When you see people against you because of Islam it breaks my heart," he said.

"There are some people affected here, especially if they have relatives in the States - they can't go there for a conference or a business trip.

"Especially born in Iraq like myself, so I can't go to the States anymore, so that will affect my business."