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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 March 2006, 16:43 GMT
Northern Ireland: Green beer for breakfast
Robin Sheeran
Robin Sheeran
The Politics Show Northern Ireland

Shamrock hat
Irish celebrations on St Patrick's Day

St Patrick's Day is as American as pizza and hamburgers. And, like pizza and hamburgers, it has been Supersized and sold back to the country it came from.

Green beer has never quite caught on here in the country that invented red lemonade, but the St Patrick's brand has a growing fan base, with booming sales of inflatable tricolour hammers and ginger stick-on leprechaun beards.

Northern Ireland does particularly well out of St Patrick's Day as we are able to export most of our warring politicians, at least for a few days.

The annual exodus to Washington has become as much a fixture in the political calendar as the marching season.

This week, Politics Show from Northern Ireland reports on events in the US capital.

The DUP are staying away this year, but the other parties will be doing the rounds of the usual dinners, receptions and, horror of horrors, working breakfasts.

Last year there was no invitation for the politicians, and President Bush met the family of murdered Belfast man, Robert McCartney.

The move was seen as a snub to Sinn Fein.

This year, the President will meet Mr McCartney's sisters, the relatives of Joseph Rafferty, a Dubliner whose family says he was shot dead by a member of the IRA, and Alan McBride, whose wife and father-in-law were killed in the 1993 Shankill bomb.

The DUP's view is that all the parties were punished last year for the sins of Sinn Fein.

So, why should they show up this year just because Sinn Fein has been welcomed back into the fold?

Sinn Fein will be going to the White House, but even they have reservations. The party has been refused permission for a fundraising gala.

The event went ahead with Gerry Adams in attendance, but the cash raised will be refunded. Mr Adams has accused George Bush of "partisan behaviour".

Paddy's Day in Washington became a fixture during the Clinton years when it seemed that Northern Ireland's problems could be wrapped up and put to bed.

A decade later the attraction of having the Irish cousins over to stay may be wearing off.

The Politics Show

Jim Fitzpatrick
Jim Fitzpatrick presents Politics Show from Northern Ireland

The Politics Show from Northern Ireland presented by Jim Fitzpatrick.

Tune in to the Politics Show from Northern Ireland on BBC One on Sunday 26 March 2006 at 12.30pm.

You get a second chance to see the programme again that night, at 23.15 on BBC One.

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