By Andrew Bushe
DUBLIN – Sinn FTin President Gerry Adams is on an eight-day visit to Australia following the lifting of a visa ban last year but it is unlikely he will meet a representative of the government there.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard has refused to meet Adams, but the Northern Irish leader will have talks with state and federal politicians and the leader of the Labour opposition Kim Beazley.
Adams had intended to visit a week earlier, but the trip was delayed because of the assembly vote in Belfast on the new North Ireland executive.
More than seven million of Australia’s 17.5 million population have Irish connections and tickets to venues the Sinn FTin leader will visit quickly sold out. He is visiting Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth.
Adams is meeting churchmen and civic and union leaders for discussions about the peace process and conflict resolution.
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He will also be addressing several literary functions and will be meeting aboriginal leaders and the East Timorese 1997 Nobel prize winner Jose Ramos Horta.