President Biden, during his visit to Ireland this week, took a selfie with a controversial Irish nationalist who had once been banned from British airwaves due to his role as the public face of the Irish Republican Army.
Gerry Adams, who is a former leader of Irish republican party Sinn Fein, took a selfie with Biden on Thursday.
“A presidential selfie,” he tweeted.
Adams was president of Sinn Fein between 1983 and 2018. During the height of the IRA’s terrorist bombing campaign in the 1980s and 1990s, as part of its efforts to end British control over Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein acted as the political wing of the IRA.
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Adams has always denied membership in the IRA itself, although he has continued to face allegations that he was involved in its terrorist activities. Adams was one of a number of Irish republican officials who were banned from British airwaves by the government of former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Adams ultimately played a key role in moving Sinn Fein away from the IRA and helped secure the Good Friday agreement — which largely brought an end to the terror campaign. He was later arrested in 2014 in connection with a 1972 murder, but was not charged.
Biden has a lengthy history with Adams. The pair have been photographed together before, and Biden was one of a number of senators who reportedly angered the British in the 90s by arguing publicly for Adams to be allowed into the U.S.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Biden wanted Adams to be given a visa in 1994, arguing it would bring him into the ongoing peace process, but that then-Prime Minister John Major’s government were angered by the move — who did not want him to receive prestige and credibility.
Documents obtained by the Telegraph showed that President Bill Clinton’s ultimate decision to grant Adams the visa left Major so angry he was not able to speak to his American counterpart until he was “in a calmer mood.”
Biden, who had once argued against the extradition of IRA terror suspects to face trial in Britain, has faced accusations of being anti-British and those accusations appeared during the Irish trip.
Democratic Unionist Party Leader Arlene Foster said this week on GB News that Biden “hates the United Kingdom, I don’t think there’s any doubt about that.”
The White House rejected that claim, describing the president’s track record as showing “that he is not anti-British.”
“The president has been very actively engaged throughout his career dating back to when he was a senator in the peace process in Northern Ireland and that has involved meetings with leaders of all of Northern Ireland parties from both of the two main communities,” Senior Director for Europe at the National Security Council Amanda Sloat said in a press conference. “The UK remains one of our strongest and closest allies and it’s difficult, frankly, to think of an issue in the world that we are not closely cooperating with the British on.”
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