Irish American Information Service


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 excluded.

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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