I attended a paid lunch for Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams hosted by Donald Trump in Manhattan’s Essex House Hotel in March 1995.
To quote the acid remark of Sarah Palin about Barack Obama from 2008, Trump was on that day at least palling around with terrorists.
A few months after the $200-per-person luncheon, the Irish Republican Army blew up London’s Canary Wharf, causing 100 million pounds in damage.
From those days to the present, I have been an Irish American supporter of Adams and Sinn Fein, the political wing of the Irish Republican movement, especially due to their historic role in stabilizing the successful peace process there.
What Trump was doing at the Essex House that day is a different matter.
Trump was eager as the celebrity host to welcome Bianca Jagger and myself to the event. He even called me a patriotic American.
I also remember him effusively welcoming Adams to the New York crowd. Adams himself spoke about the Irish peace process and made a joke about playing “the Trump card.”
Adams was a hot ticket in New York that spring when the peace process was climaxing. He joked with me about how celebrity-struck New Yorkers were attracted to a “whiff of gunpowder.”
I certainly appreciated Trump’s attendance, though it was clear from his table-hopping that he wanted to dominate anything that was breaking news in the city.
But his “palling” with Adams was met with hostility in British and Republican Party circles at the time.
And since he now opposes admitting Mexican and Muslim immigrants into the United States, Trump might have to explain his support for granting the visa to Adams.
The U.S. State Department and our CIA strongly opposed granting the visa. I cannot help but wonder where Trump is on visas for the Mexican American Dreamers fighting to maintain their residency today.
The only other times I met Trump back in those days was for a coffee with Marla Maples in Malibu and a day skiing with his first wife, Ivana. She wore a white bunny outfit for the occasion.
The lunch with Gerry Adams was decidedly more political, though perhaps not one that the presumptive Republican nominee would care to discuss.
Tom Hayden is the author of several books, including “Irish on the Inside: In Search of the Soul of Irish America,” and a former California state legislator. He can be reached at email@example.com.