For Menendez, IRA ties preceded his hold on Thatcher resolution

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Sen. Robert Menendez’s past support of Gerry Adams, Sinn Fein, and the Irish Republican Army may help explain why the New Jersey Democrat removed mention of the 1984 assassination attempt on Margaret Thatcher in the U.S. Senate resolution.

The Daily Caller reported earlier this week that Menendez, who is chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations was secretly holding up Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell’s resolution over the portion dealing with terrorism. Menendez ultimately relented and the resolution went through with the mentions, but he did not and has not explained why he held up the resolution in the first place.

Menendez’s ties to Sinn Fein, the political wing of the IRA, go back to the 1990s. He attended Sinn Fein’s Ard Fheis, a political convention, in Belfast in 1995 and defended its leader, Gerry Adams, at a conference in New York in 1994.

Irish Republican Army sympathizing groups considered Menendez a “friend” and ally. “Before it was fashionable, Bob was there for Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness [the former convicted terrorist turned politician] and the Irish people in their struggle for self-determination and freedom from British occupation of the North,” wrote the “Irish American Coalition” in a 2006 letter endorsing Menendez titled, “Our Friend Menendez.”

The letter was signed by the heads of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish American Unity Conference, and the Brehon Law Society, groups known to favor the Irish Republican Army. They continued: “Whenever called upon, Bob Menendez has been there for the Irish. Now it is time for the Irish to be there for Bob Menendez.”

Menendez has been equally fulsome in his praise for Sinn Fein. “I believe that the British Government can move closer to peace,” he told a 1995 hearing by the House International Relations Committee, “by recognizing that Sinn Fein have a legitimate electoral mandate with the backing of a legitimate voice — the voice of the disenfranchised Irish of the North. Therefore, official recognition of Sinn Fein in accordance with such a mandate is in order.”

Menendez has also defended Sinn Fein and the IRA, even when they get into trouble with other terrorist organizations. In 2001, Columbiam authorities arrested three IRA members visiting FARC-controlled areas on fake passports as part of a drug and weapons dealing scheme. The connections between the IRA and the FARC are many. “According to Colombian and U.S. authorities, the IRA has been assisting FARC for some time before the three [IRA members] were arrested,” wrote Alan Ruddock for the Sunday Times in December 19, 2004. Colombian authorities accused the IRA of training the FARC.

The Bush administration severed ties with Sinn Fein but Senator Menendez continued to support the organization, merely expressing his “displeasure” with the apprehension. He was also “disappointed” in Gerry Adams’s 2011 visit to Cuba but he continued to back him politically.

Menendez’s office did not return request for comment.