Unionists to Attend White House Fete; Sinn Fein Excluded

From Reuters

Leading members of Northern Ireland's pro-British Protestant unionist party will attend the White House's St. Patrick's Day celebrations next week while their Sinn Fein foes will be excluded because of IRA violence.

David Trimble, leader of the mainstream Ulster Unionist Party, has accepted an invitation from President Clinton to attend the festivities.

"It is a dramatic turn of events. One year ago, [Sinn Fein leader] Gerry Adams was the hero of the White House, and this year it is the Ulster Unionists who are being invited," Unionist John Taylor said.

The Ulster Unionist Party wants Northern Ireland to remain under British sovereignty. Sinn Fein seeks to end British rule in Ireland.

Last year, Adams, who heads the Irish Republican Army's political wing, was a guest at the same function and shook hands with Clinton in symbolic U.S. recognition of his work toward getting the IRA to declare a cease-fire.

But the IRA broke its 17-month truce when IRA bombers killed three people in a London campaign that started on Feb. 9.

Taylor said Adams' exclusion was a sign that the British, Irish and U.S. governments have concluded that the IRA and its supporters have given up attempts to reach a negotiated Northern Ireland settlement.

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