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27 November 1997 Edition

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SF blaze trail across US

Since Martin McGuinness arrived in the US 14 days ago the Sinn Fein presence in America has not let up. At present the party's two main information officers, Rita O'Hare and Richard McAuley, are in the US.

Gerry Kelly, one of the party's senior negotiators with the British, has just returned from a four day trip where he spoke at the annual Testimonial Dinner of Noraid in New York on Friday 21 November.

During his four day trip Kelly meet senior American and Irish American political figures and newspaper editors in New York.

``What impressed me,'' said Kelly, ``was the extent of the knowledge the Americans have of the situation in the North''.

During Martin McGuinness's trip he attended and spoke at the prestigious American Irish dinner in Boston hosted by the Dunphy family on Thursday 13 November.

British Direct Ruler Mowlam also attended the dinner, although she wasn't invited to speak.

McGuinness also met with the editorial board of the Boston Globe before delivering the John F Kennedy speech to a packed audience at Harvard University, despite heavy snowstorms.

The Sinn Fein negotiator also delivered speeches at the McCormack Institute of the University of Massachusetts, where he was warmly greeted by Tom O'Neill, son of former speaker of the American Congress.

Among those attending the talk was the British Consul whose ``chin hit the ground,'' according to one of McGuinness's aides when William Bolger, a former Senator for Massachusetts, presented McGuinness with a cheque for the party.

``I'm leading by example,'' claimed Bolger.

A $20 a plate dinner in the Dorchester Hotel had an audience of 450 people and a question and answer session created a good rapport with the audience.

Sinn Féin's US representative Mairead Keane told An Phoblacht, ``the significant point about this trip is that when Martin McGuinness attended a function that Marjorie Mowlam attended she ended up answering points made by McGuinness. Effectively he was setting the agenda and she was on the defensive.

``Mowlam found that she couldn't come to the States and waffle, she was on the spot over Bloody Sunday and the marching issue. Irish Americans and Americans in general are a lot more clued in than what the British give them credit for. It was a good trip,'' she said.
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