Belfast Telegraph

US to announce Pat's day invites

By Sean O'Driscoll
25 February 2005

The US government is expected to formally announce in the next week that none of the Northern Ireland parties will be invited to the White House for St Patrick's Day.

The State Department has said privately to Irish government officials that it was waiting for President Bush and Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, to return from their tour of Europe before making the announcement.

The State Department is concerned that President Bush should be shielded from any negative publicity that could arise from the decision and want them back from Europe before the statement is made.

Joe Hackett, a spokesperson for the Irish Embassy in Washington, confirmed that the final decision is to be made at the end of the tour, which finishes today.

He said that any announcement would have to be made before invitations are sent out in the first week in early March.

The statement is expected to focus on the St Patrick's Day meeting between President Bush and Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern and will not given reasons why the Northern Ireland parties are not included.

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