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Clinton Approves Visa for IRA Ally Gerry Adams

March 1, 1996

WASHINGTON (AP) _ With the Northern Ireland peace process at a crossroad, President Clinton approved a U.S. visa today for IRA ally Gerry Adams but barred him from raising money in America for the outlawed guerrilla group.

In granting the St. Patrick’s Day visit, the White House sternly urged the IRA to end the latest round of bloodshed. ``The cease-fire needs to be restored _ now,″ spokesman Mike McCurry said.

The visa will let Adams spend his second St. Patrick’s Day in the United States.

``The reason for giving him that visa is to advance the very peace process that we believe now holds out such promise,″ presidential spokesman McCurry said.

Clinton’s decision came two days after the British and Irish governments set a June 10 date for peace negotiations. In an olive branch to the Irish Republican Army, its political ally _ Adams’ Sinn Fein party _ will be allowed to participate in the talks if the IRA resumes its cease-fire.

``We believe the announcement of the date gives Sinn Fein and the IRA something they’ve long looked for, which is a date-certain for all-party talks,″ McCurry said.

McCurry said Clinton approved a three-month, multiple-entry visa and that Adams agreed not to raise money for the IRA while in the United States. That point is spelled out in the visa, McCurry said.

``There will be no meetings at the White House or other government offices until the cease-fire is restored,″ McCurry said. However, he did not rule out the possibility of unofficial meetings elsewhere.

He said he understands Adams’ schedule includes a visit to Scranton, Pa. Although Adams was granted a multiple-entry visa, the administration expects no other visits.

The White House informed Ireland and Britain of the decision.

``I will say that the president would not have taken the step of approving the visa if he did not believe, based on our contact with Mr. Adams, that this could further the peace process,″ McCurry said.

In a gamble for peace, Clinton first granted Adams a visa in 1994, angering the British government and Northern Ireland loyalists. But the White House believed it was a chance worth taking after the IRA declared a cease-fire in its 25-year campaign of violence known as ``the troubles.″

This time, the visa was approved without a truce.

The 17-month truce came to a bloody end last month when an IRA bomb exploded in London. A second soon followed, destroying a double-decker bus. Three people have died, including an IRA bomber whose device exploded as he transported it on the bus.

Clinton harshly condemned the bombings and made clear he holds the IRA responsible. But the administration did not sever contact with Adams.

For more than a year, Adams warned that the cease-fire would break down unless London agreed to peace talks. Some of his supporters argued that bombing was the only way to drive the point home.

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