BBC News Online.
Wednesday, 19 December, 2001.
The American ambassador to the UK, William Farish, has criticised Sinn Fein
president Gerry Adams' three-day visit to Cuba.
Mr Farish was attending a Christmas gala event at the Waterfront Hall in
Belfast on Tuesday night where he delivered a message of peace from US President
George W Bush.
But speaking to reporters before the event, he described the Cuban trip by
Sinn Fein as "unhelpful".
Mr Farish said: "If you combine Colombia and September 11 and now the
visit to Cuba, it certainly isn't a positive thing.
"But we are looking at the big picture and looking forward.
"I think there have been things that Sinn Fein have done recently which
have been very positive and that it what we are after."
Delivering the message from President Bush, Mr Farish said the people of
Northern Ireland were a "beacon of hope" for divided societies across
In the message, President Bush said Northern Ireland could be "justly
proud" of its progress towards peace.
The US leader also said his country would stand "shoulder to shoulder"
with the people of Northern Ireland "just as you have supported us with
your friendship and solidarity through our difficulties this past year".
Mr Adams has held a series of talks with the Cuban leader, Fidel Castro,
during the controversial visit, which has also attracted criticism from
Republican congressmen in the USA, including Peter King.
But Mr Adams, who is being accompanied by North Belfast assembly member
Gerry Kelly, said he did not believe the trip would cause lasting damage to
relationships with his party's United States supporters.
The Sinn Fein president and Fidel Castro had discussions on Monday and met
again for five-and-a-half hours on Tuesday evening.
Mr Adams said on BBC Radio Ulster on Wednesday that they discussed "the
Irish peace process, globalisation, third world debt and the Cuban health
programme, which is very impressive".
Later on the final day of his visit, Mr Adams is due to meet the Cuban
minister for foreign affairs Felipe Perez Roque as well as visiting a paediatric
Peace process address
The Sinn Fein president delayed the trip following controversy surrounding
the arrest of three Irishmen in Colombia.
It emerged that one of the three Niall Connolly- who is still being held on
charges of training Marxist Farc guerrillas in explosives and urban terrorism -
had been a Sinn Fein representative in Cuba.
On Tuesday, Mr Adams said in a speech that the Northern Ireland peace
process could only be safeguarded with changes to society to ensure a level
Speaking in Havana, Mr Adams reaffirmed his commitment to the Irish
republican target of a united Ireland.
But he also dwelt on issues closer to home for his audience, with a call for
an end to the United States' trading embargo against Cuba and criticism of
International Monetary Fund and World Bank policies towards South American and
Caribbean nations' debt.
He went on to say any peace process - whether in Ireland, the Middle East or
Latin America - had to have a way of solving problems democratically on the
basis of equality and understanding at its core.