President Bush told the family of slain Irishman Robert McCartney that he will do whatever he can to help bring his killers to justice, his sisters said after a St. Patrick's Day meeting with the president.
McCartney was beaten and stabbed to death outside a Belfast pub Jan. 30. His family members blame the outlawed Irish Republican Army for his death and are calling for charges to be brought against about 12 people they say were responsible.
McCartney's five sisters and his fiancee met Bush for a few minutes during a St. Patrick's Day reception at the White House.
Before meeting with the McCartneys, Bush received a bowl of shamrocks in a public ceremony with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern. Bush pledged to help the Irish people move toward a lasting agreement in Northern Ireland peace process. "As you work for peace, our government and the American people will stand with you," Bush said.
Because of the allegations about the IRA's involvement in McCartney's death and a bank heist on Dec. 20, Bush did not invite Northern Ireland political leaders who attended for 10 years, including Gerry Adams, the head of Sinn Fein, the legal political arm of the IRA.
Ahern said renewed power sharing in Northern Ireland between Protestant leaders and Sinn Fein, the major Catholic-backed party, required the IRA to deliver "a definitive closure to paramilitary capability and activity, including all forms of criminality."
Ahern, who spoke to Adams for an hour Wednesday night, said the Sinn Fein leader faces deepening isolation, particularly in Washington, unless the IRA goes out of business. "People want to see that we're going to get action, because if we don't, let's be frank about it, the icy reception this week will turn into just total exclusion, which is the opposite of what we want to achieve," he said.
Not welcome at the White House, Adams was met with a standing ovation yesterday morning as he spoke to supporters at a Washington hotel. He told Friends of Sinn Fein that neither the McCartney killing nor the cold shoulder from some U.S. officials will weaken his party. "We who would not allow the British government to criminalize us, we will also not allow any rogue elements on the fringes of Republicanism to criminalize our struggle," Adams said.