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Tuesday, 23 April, 2002, 13:42 GMT 14:42 UK
Why Adams didn't go to Washington
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By Mark Simpson
BBC Northern Ireland political correspondent

In the end it would have been a bigger surprise if Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams had gone to Washington, rather than stayed at home.

Since the invitation to attend the hearings at House of Representatives' International Relations Committee was issued last month, all the indications were that Mr Adams would say "no".

For a start, Sinn Fein was furious at the way the invitation was handled.

The media received a copy of the invitation before Mr Adams did.

Gerry Adams: Sinn Fein President
Gerry Adams: Decided not to testify at the congressional hearing

The leaked invitation was not the most explosive document to be leaked in the recent history of the peace process, but it had an impact nonetheless.

Another factor was the view of campaigners for the so-called Colombia Three - Niall Connolly, Martin McCauley and James Monaghan who were arrested in Colombia last August on suspicion of training Marxist FARC rebels.

The men's supporters say the Congressional hearing could prejudice their trial.

More pressure not to go Washington came from Father Sean McManus of the Irish National Caucus lobby group.

All in all, it seems a trip to Washington for Mr Adams was always going to be unlikely.

The upside for him is that he gets to spend more time concentrating on the forthcoming Irish election campaign.

The downside is that he can expect a wave of criticism - from both sides of the Atlantic.

See also:

20 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Hearing 'won't bias Colombian case'
16 Apr 02 | Northern Ireland
Trimble calls on SF leader to testify
30 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Adams 'advised' not to attend US hearing
22 Oct 01 | Northern Ireland
SF link to Colombia arrest man
09 Mar 02 | Northern Ireland
Trimble calls for border poll
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