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February 09, 2005

02/09/05 - White House Dismisses Reports

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02/09/05 13:05 EST

The White House has dismissed newspaper reports in Ireland
that Northern Ireland political parties will be excluded
from St Patrick's Day celebrations in Washington.

A State Department spokeswoman said the issuing of
invitations was still under review.

"No decision has been taken regarding invites being sent to
Northern Ireland parties," she said.

Diplomats and White House officials claimed they were
baffled to receive calls inquiring why the parties had been

A ban would be the first time in more than a decade that
Sinn Fein and the main unionist parties had not taken part
in the March 17th events.

The Taoiseach Mr Ahern told the Dail yesterday that a
decision had already been taken by the Bush administration
on the issue but he did not specify further.

Ireland's Minister for Foreign Minister Affairs, Mr Ahern,
is in currently Washington for a series of meetings and is
expected to be briefed on the situation.

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