The Sinn Fein leader, Gerry Adams, came to Boston yesterday, having missed a scheduled St. Patrick's Day appearance in Buffalo the night before, saying he had been held up by security officials at a Washington airport.
Adams, who missed other planned Buffalo appearances yesterday, took a train from Washington to Boston, still without his luggage.
Adams and two traveling companions were trying to board a flight Friday to Buffalo, when they and their bags were held up for extra inspections, he said.
Representative Brian Higgins, Democrat of Buffalo, told a crowd of several hundred people on Friday night that Adams was detained because his name and that of a traveling companion had turned up on a terror watch list. Higgins invited Adams to speak at the Buffalo Irish Center.
Today, Adams is scheduled to take part in a discussion about the Northern Ireland peace process at Elms College in Chicopee. He also will march in the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Holyoke and hold a news conference at Holyoke City Hall with US Representative Richard E. Neal.
Adams, whose Irish Republican Army-linked political party represents most Catholics in Northern Ireland, met Friday with President Bush and other Irish leaders in Washington.
''It's long been an occupational hazard for me and for other Sinn Fein representatives to be held for lengthy periods at airports across the USA," Adams said yesterday.
They arrived at Washington-Dulles International Airport at 3:30 p.m. Friday and missed the 5:30 p.m. Buffalo flight.
''I don't blame the people in the airports for that. I've raised it directly with the White House and the State Department," Adams said. ''They have not told us we're on the terrorist watch list. If we are, surely we shouldn't be."
Earlier Friday, Adams joined Bush and Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern at a White House St. Patrick's Day ceremony.
That gathering was also attended by Mark Durkan, whose Social Democratic and Labor Party represents moderate Catholic opinion in the British-governed territory of Northern Island. Last year, Bush barred all Northern Ireland leaders from the event.
Russ Knocke, a spokesman for the Department of Homeland Security, declined to say whether Adams's name is on a watch list.
''There are privacy restrictions that prohibit us from disclosing names," he said.
He acknowledged that Adams missed the flight, but questioned whether inspections alone were the reason, saying he didn't know what time Adams arrived at the airport, or whether it was with the recommended lead time.
The Transportation Security Administration's website says the average maximum time for clearing Dulles' main security checkpoint ranges from nine to 24 minutes late Friday afternoons.