18 March 2006

Delay scuppers Adams' US speech


Gerry Adams had been attending meetings in Washington

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams missed a St Patrick's Day event in the US after being delayed at a Washington airport for "secondary screening".

He had been invited by Congressman Brian Higgins to speak in Buffalo.

Mr Higgins told the audience Mr Adams was absent because his name was on a "terror watch list", but Homeland Security officials would not comment.

They said he had a routine security check and "secondary screening" but was not arrested or detained.

Mr Adams, who had earlier attended a St Patrick's Day event at the White House, was due to speak at the Buffalo Irish Center in New York state.

His name, and that of a travelling companion, appeared on a terror watch list at Washington's Reagan National Airport, claimed Congressman Higgins.

AP news agency said he told the crowd awaiting Mr Adams' speech: "When I spoke with his assistant a little while ago, their luggage was still being, let's just say, inspected.

"Gerry Adams should not have been on a terror watch list," he said.

"That his name would appear in this untoward manner and that appearance ruined his ability to celebrate St Patrick's Day in Buffalo is sad and unfortunate when one considers Gerry Adams' leadership in the decommissioning of the IRA's weapons and his commitment to the Good Friday agreements," Reuters quoted him as saying.

A Homeland Security official refused to comment on whether Mr Adams' name had appeared on a terror watch list, saying privacy restrictions precluded them from discussing individuals on no-fly lists, said AP.

The official also declined to explain why Mr Adams underwent the secondary screening, which was described as "thorough".

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