Gerry Adams defends comparison to civil rights icon Rosa Parks

By Daniel McConnell, Political Editor in Washington DC

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams has defended his comparison of his exclusion from the White House to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

Earlier today, Mr Adams was pulled aside from the other Sinn Féin members as the White House security personnel examined his documents.

After waiting 90 minutes and seeing no movement in the effort to gain him entrance, Mr Adams decided to leave.

"Sinn Féin will not sit at the back of the bus for anyone," he stated later, before the US Secret Service expressed regret, blaming an "administrative input error" for the incident.

Speaking tonight at the American Ireland dinner in Washington DC, Mr Adams said Sinn Féin representatives are treated differently to other politicians as a matter of practice.

Defending the Rosa Parks comparison, he said he and his party are not looking for special treatment.

"We way back over 20 years ago I negotiated with the Clinton administration," he said.

"I had my first conversation with Al Gore who was the Vice President.

"The White House at that time said that this was the beginning of the normalisation of relationships between the White House and Sinn Fein.

"So we're not looking for special treatment. I mean I was invited to the place.

"I was there at least 30 times in the last 20 years at different events and for talks and meetings as well as for these more ceremonial celebrations of St. Patrick's Day."

He restated his "back of the bus" statement when speaking to reporters.

"So ah you know we aren't going to sit at the back of the bus," he said.

"We represent people, I have never come to America without being invited.

"I like the place. I think the contribution of Irish America and various administrations since Bill Clinton's time has been really crucial to the process working, but we're not going to be taken for granted either."


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