Down through the years, both before and after the peace process began, the Provos in the US could always rely on one man to speak out for their cause. That man was Peter King, whose support for the 1981 hunger strike propelled him, via the Grand Marshall-ship of the St Patrick’s Day parade in New York, into Congress.
When the peace process began the then US President, Bill Clinton looked around for anyone in Washington who knew anything about Gerry Adams and his people and he settled on Peter King, the only Congressman who had actually met Adams, to be his unofficial adviser and pipeline to the Sinn Fein leadership.
Aside from a brief hiatus, when the IRA’s robbery of the Northern Bank and murder of Robert McCartney caused a break in the relationship, Peter King has always been a reliable friend in Washington to the Sinn Fein leader and his party.
Now, according to one of Donald Trump’s closest advisers, Peter King is sharing his affection with no less than President Donald Trump and recently agreed to be a member of a special commission which helped draw up the controversial travel ban on Muslim countries issued by the Trump White House. The ban was put into effect over the weekend leading to noisy protests at numerous airports and legal challenges which seem sure to end up at the Supreme Court.
Actually the task was to draw up a ban on Muslims and frame it so that it had a chance of surviving a legal challenge on grounds of unconstitutionality. Trump has made it clear that he would give preferential treatment to Christians in Muslim countries. Singling out religious groups in this way, either for punishment or favour, would probably be ruled illegal in the US.
This is what Rudy Giuliani, former New York mayor and now Trump confidante, told a Fox News programme over the weekend:
When he first announced it, he said ‘Muslim ban’. He called me up, he said put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally. I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey, Congressman McCaul, Pete King, a whole group of very expert lawyers on this and what we did was focussed on, instead of religion, danger, the areas of the world that create danger for us which is a factual basis.
Since Giuliani gave this interview, Peter King has denied he was a member of this commission and claimed that Giuliani has confused other Trump meetings he attended with the discussion on the Muslim ban. Nonetheless King said he ‘fully supports’ the Trump order.
If Peter King did not attend the Trump commission meetings that drew up the ban it is not because he does not share the President’s aversion towards Muslims. When chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee back in 2010 he held a number of hearings to investigate domestic radicalisation of US Muslims.
Maintaining that ’80 to 85 per cent’ of US mosques were controlled by jihadists, King had this to say about American Muslims:
When a war begins, we’re all Americans. But in this case, this is not the situation. And whether it’s pressure, whether it’s cultural tradition, whatever, the fact is the Muslim community does not cooperate anywhere near to the extent that it should. The irony is that we’re living in two different worlds.
Below is a recording of Giuliani’s Fox TV interview, which happened on Sunday. Giuliani’s remarks on Peter King start at 02:55 minutes. Underneath that is a profile of Peter King that I wrote for a New York newspaper back in 2005.
The question now for Sinn Fein, Taoiseach Enda Kenny and other Irish politicians is whether they swallow their public distaste at Trump’s ban and attend the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in Washington or boycott it in protest. And will Gerry Adams publicly condemn King for his support of a ban which has tens of thousands up in arms around the world?