US government U-turn on Adams meeting

President Barack Obama meets with Irish prime minister Enda Kenny in the Oval Office of the White House
President Barack Obama meets with Irish prime minister Enda Kenny in the Oval Office of the White House

The American government has done an apparent U-turn, going ahead with a meeting between Gerry Adams and a State Department official just hours after the meeting was cancelled over Stormont’s welfare reform impasse.

The cancellation of the meeting had drawn a sharp response from Mr Adams, who accused the State Department of a “bizarre” decision.

However, the rearranged meeting was with a more junior official to the meeting which had originally been scheduled for the Sinn Fein president.

The apparent US government U-turn came not long after a statement from SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell who boasted about his level of access in Washington and mocked Sinn Fein’s difficulties. Dr McDonnell said that he had been engaged in “very productive” talks and added: “Sinn Féin ... are on the wrong side of friends in America with Gerry Adams turning on the US administration”.

Meanwhile, US Vice President Joe Biden has joked that no one wearing orange would be welcome at Washington’s St Patrick’s Day events.

Standing outside his home, the veteran Democrat politician joked with Taoiseach Enda Kenny that “if you’re wearing orange, you’re not welcome in here”.

The vice president, who later made clear that he was joking, made the remark as he met Mr Kenny and his wife for a breakfast meeting on Tuesday morning.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness have not travelled to Washington this year.