DUBLIN — Donald Trump really hates terrorists.
He’s so tough on terror that he’s proposing “a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the U.S.”—remarks that have been met with worldwide condemnation.
In Britain alone, Prime Minister David Cameron described the comments as “divisive, unhelpful, and quite simply wrong,” while Boris Johnson, mayor of London, drolly added: “The only reason I wouldn’t go to some parts of New York is the real risk of meeting Donald Trump.” At home, even the Tea Party is turning on him.
Well, guess what? Trump. Doesn’t. Care.
That’s how tough on terrorism Trump is.
Which makes it all the more curious that while the Republican presidential frontrunner is now proposing to ban all Muslims from entering the U.S. because they might be terrorists, Trump was a pivotal figure in a March 1995, $200-a-plate fundraiser at New York City’s Essex House hotel for the Irish Republican Army’s political wing, Sinn Féin, where the guest of honor was that organization’s best-known figure, Gerry Adams.
Indeed, as footage from the time shows, Adams singled out Trump for special notice, referring to him by name from the podium and breaking off his speech to shake the real-estate mogul’s hand.
The fundraiser took place during Adams’s second trip to America. He had been barred from entering the U.S. for many years, but President Bill Clinton granted him two separate 48-hour visas—despite widespread protest from U.S. and British officials—after the August 1994 Northern Ireland cease-fire agreement.
“The charismatic Adams was greeted like a rock star—posing for pictures and providing autographs.... he received a kiss, a hug, and some words of advice from Mick Jagger’s ex-wife,” the Associated Press reported at the time.
“He smiled and greeted a three-piece band playing traditional Irish music.”
From a podium flanked by tricolours and with a sign behind him reading “Sinn Féin, a Lasting Peace,” Adams told the audience: “Today is a very historic occasion—I think the British indeed knew there were many friends of Sinn Féin here.”
He also gave Trump a special mention from the podium: “This is not the Trump Tower, but I think I …”
His next few words were cut off as he moved away from the mic to shake hands with Trump.
Footage shows Trump wave to the room and receive a round of applause.
How Trump came to be at the fundraiser, and whether he was a significant donor to Sinn Féin, is unclear, however Irish Central alleges “his interest was piqued by his own Gaelic heritage.” Some claim he likely learned Gaelic as a child from his Scottish-born mother, Mary Anne MacLeod.”
Of course, one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter, and these days Adams has rebranded himself as a regular politician. He is an Irish TD (member of parliament) and has been an important part of the peace process. He has, symbolically, shaken hands with British royalty.
The IRA has laid down its weapons and, despite occasional flare-ups, the peace process has held.
Adams has always denied that he has ever been a member of the IRA—he says he only ever was a member of Sinn Féin—but in Ireland, this is widely dismissed as a necessary political maneuver.
Indeed, on Sept. 29, 2012, Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny accused Adams of having been not just a member of the IRA, but a member of the IRA’s army council, calling for Adams to “be absolutely truthful about this,” and once repeatedly shouted, “Nobody believes you!” at Adams when the latter denied membership in the IRA in exchanges in the Irish Dail (its parliament).
Most people in Ireland tend to go along with Kenny. Indeed, Father Gerry Reynolds, who facilitated secret meetings between Northern Irish nationalist party leader John Hume and Adams, once said asking Adams about his IRA membership is a “stupid question,” as the IRA was a secret society and “the raison d’etre of the secret society is that it is secret.”
Whatever the exact status of Gerry Adams’s IRA membership card, and whether or not, as has been reported, he was indeed the man who gave the go-ahead for the attempted assassination of Margaret Thatcher with the Brighton bombing (the Iron Lady proved bomb-proof, but five other politicians were killed and 31 injured), there is little doubt that back in 1995, Adams was a pivotal figure and a key apologist for a terror campaign which had involved decades of bombing and shooting in Ireland and the U.K., leaving more than 3,600 dead and thousands more injured.
He was in typical form when he described the Brighton bombing as the “inevitable result of the British presence in [Ireland].”
So why is Donald Trump such a fan?
Perhaps it’s because although his role in the IRA and Sinn Féin may be a source of controversy, there’s one thing you can say with confidence about Gerry Adams: He’s definitely not a Muslim.