Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams has had a far warmer reception in Washington than he did on his last St Patrick’s Day visit, when the doors of the White House were slammed in his face amid mounting criticism of the IRA.
A year ago, America’s growing doubts about armed republicanism were crystallised by the response to the story of the McCartney sisters and their campaign to get justice for their murdered brother.
While the family’s tour of Washington DC culminated in a personal meeting with President Bush, Sinn Fein – the IRA’s political wing – found itself frozen out, under pressure in America like never before.
Snubbed by Senator Edward Kennedy – the father figure of Irish America – like other Northern Irish politicians they were also barred from the traditional St Patrick’s Day reception at the White House.
Today, after a year in which the IRA announced an end to its armed campaign and promised to complete the process of decommissioning, politicians are back at the home of the US president.