By Ray O’Hanlon
Sinn FTin President Gerry Adams is to visit Cuba next week.
The Adams visit, which was postponed earlier this year following to the arrest in Colombia of three Irishmen with ties to Sinn FTin, is linked to the 20th anniversary of the 1981 hunger strikes. Adams is now expected to spend three days on the Caribbean island beginning Monday, Dec. 10.
During his recent visit to New York, Adams confirmed at a press conference that he intended to visit Cuba and meet with Fidel Castro, despite unease among some Sinn FTin supporters in the U.S.
That unease was being reflected this week by the lobby group Irish American Republicans.
“Fidel Castro is a walking human-rights violator,” said IAR chairman J. Brian McCarthy. “We have supported Gerry Adams in the past and we will continue to support his efforts for peace and justice in the north of Ireland, but we will not allow him to go to Cuba and embrace a tyrant without comment.”
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Jeff Cleary, IAR’s director for policy and communication, said that the group had expressed its displeasure with Sinn Fein representatives in the U.S. and was calling on them to ask Adams to reconsider the trip.
Friends of Sinn FTin President Larry Downes defended the visit.
“People need to keep this trip in context,” he said. “Gerry Adams is an Irish politician and the Irish and Cuban people have their own relationship. The visit is linked to the anniversary of the hunger strikes as was the recent Adams visit to South Africa,” Downes said.