Secret Service agents confused "Gerry Adams" as the nickname for another attendee before the Sinn Féin leader's disastrous White House visit.
A Secret Service mix up in which they believed Gerry Adams to be the nickname of another St. Patrick’s Day party attendee instead of the real name of the Sinn Féin President has been released as the true reason why the Louth TD was denied entrance to the White House event in 2016.
You may remember Adams making vocal complaints about the way in which he was treated when he turned up to celebrate at the White House annual St. Patrick’s Day celebration on March 17, 2016. He continued to make complaints to the press over the manner in which he was treated, eventually leaving the event after he was kept waiting for entry for over an hour.
“I had received my usual invitation to attend the St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the White House and was pleased to accept,” Adams said at the time.
“When I arrived the staff at the White House informed me that there was an issue of ‘security’.
“After two decades of travelling back and forth to the USA and countless meetings in the White House with successive US Presidents, this is an unacceptable development.”
A "firestorm" was created after Gerry Adams failed to gain entry to the White House
While the US Secret Service apologized to the Sinn Féin leader immediately after the confusion occurred, documents acquired by RTÉ recently under the Freedom of Information Act have show what a “firestorm” was created by the Irish politician and his supporters on Capitol Hill.
It appears that when Adams arrived at the party hosted by former US President Barack Obama, his name was not covered by security clearance but that an email was sent to a member of the organization dealing with security to clear up the matter. Unfortunately, the person in question was out for a run and Adams had already grown impatient and left by the time they got back to their inbox.
"Ha. Sorry, went for a run. Had to get out in this good weather,” the member of the Secret Service replied to their colleague.
"Yesterday I went for a run at 5 pm and did not get back until 5.45 pm when I saw the email,” they said in a follow up email the next day.
It also appears that the confusion caused problems for some days with several emails between the White House and Secret Service discussing negative press and a letter of complaint from Irish-American congressmen.
"I walked into a firestorm ... the last flames are just being put out as we speak. Wow, what a day!" one agent wrote.
Another confirmed how Gerry Adams was "being very vocal about this and has gone to the press saying he was denied entry which we obviously know isn't true."
Irish-American politicians were quick to complain at the manner in which the Secret Service treated Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams
Adams being left out in the cold had left many Irish American leaders baffled and members of the Friends of Ireland Caucus in the United States House of Representatives addressed a letter to Chief of Staff Denis McDonough expressing their outrage that Adams was denied entry to the reception.
Signed by Members of Congress including Richard E. Neal, Peter King, Brendan Boyle, Joe Crowley, and James P. McGovern, the letter stated: “For more than three decades, the United States government has continuously encouraged the political parties in Northern Ireland to take risks for peace. But instead of being rewarded for their efforts, many members of Sinn Féin are now being punished. This unfortunate behavior seems to be happening with increasing regularity.”
The Secret Service immediately issued an apology in March 2016 stating: “The Secret Service would like to express our regret that the issue involving Mr Gerry Adams’ entry into the St. Patrick’s Day reception could not be resolved in a more timely manner.
“Unfortunately, an administrative input error received by the Secret Service was not able to be rectified promptly.”
A spokesperson for Sinn Féin told RTÉ yesterday that a different reason was given for Gerry Adams’ refused entry to the White House on that St. Patrick’s Day but acknowledged that the White House and Secret Service had apologised.
Did Gerry Adams overreact to the delay in allowing him entrance to the White House on St. Patrick’s Day 2016?