- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

All indications are that Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams’ undeserved decade of political fortune in Washington is drawing to a close. That’s a very good thing, and might bring some well-deserved luck to seekers of an end to “the Troubles.”

President Bush declined to invite Mr. Adams to the White House for St. Patrick’s Day for the first time in 10 years, and instead invited the family of a man murdered by the Irish Republican Army. The London Times reports that the Bush administration has ordered Sinn Fein to quit raising money in the United States. Even Sen. Ted Kennedy — Sinn Fein once code-named him “big brother” in secret appeals for his help — has turned his back on Mr. Adams. Mr. Kennedy declined to meet Mr. Adams because of the IRA’s “ongoing criminal activity and contempt for the rule of law.” He didn’t quite call Mr. Adams a terrorist, as he should have, but better something than nothing. Times change.

Mr. Kennedy deserves plaudits for dining on a small dish of crow. For years Mr. Kennedy was Mr. Adams’ foremost Washington proponent. In 1995, he lobbied the Clinton administration hard for Mr. Adams, lending him credibility. He persuaded President Clinton to invite Mr. Adams to the White House, arguing that his gang of terrorists was “legitimate” and deserved the treatment given to any other political party. The United States could draw a terrorist leader close, offer him blandishments and turn him on to reason. “This is the most hopeful St. Patrick’s Day we’ve had in 25 years,” Mr. Kennedy said. Scores of killings followed.

It’s remarkable that Sinn Fein’s luck lasted as long as it did. After September 11, antiterrorist sentiment hardened attitudes toward almost every terrorist group — except the IRA. Credible reports of IRA malfeasance have turned the tide. The IRA’s involvement in a $50 million Belfast bank robbery and the January murder of Robert McCartney — witnessed by dozens, none of whom will identify IRA thugs — have soured even ardent pro-IRA voices in the United States.

Notable among them is a call — one we surely endorse — by Rep. Peter King, New York Republican, to disband the IRA. Americans now find it “hard to see what the justification is for the continued existence of the IRA,” he says. Coming from such a longtime supporter of the IRA, it’s a promising sign of hope.

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