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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 20:24 GMT
St Pat's reception snub 'insult'
The White House
Northern Ireland politicians have attended festivities since 1993
A White House St Patrick's Day snub to all Northern Ireland's political parties would be "deeply insulting", UUP leader David Trimble has warned.

The US government is considering not inviting any of the Northern Irish parties to next month's reception.

It comes in the wake of the failure to broker a deal to restore devolution and the allegations of IRA involvement in December's Northern Bank raid.

US sources say the administration has not yet made its final decision.

However, it is understood that officials are considering whether to invite all the parties or none of them.

Mr Trimble said on Wednesday: "Punishing democrats for the activities of paramilitary criminals, for fear of upsetting their political bosses, sends out a very dangerous message indeed."

He added: "Not only is this deeply insulting to the people of Northern Ireland, it indicates how far behind, British, Irish and American thinking the US government's assessment of current events is."

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson said excluding all political parties would be "an outrageous punishment of the innocent".

He said: "Why should democrats be penalised because of the actions of the IRA?"

Political representatives from Northern Ireland have been a fixture at the annual White House St Patrick's Day reception since 1993 when then-President Bill Clinton invited them.

It is believed the White House will not take the action of excluding Sinn Fein but inviting other politicians.

US special envoy to Northern Ireland Mitchell Reiss discussed the arrangements for the celebrations with Irish Foreign Minister Dermot Ahern in Washington on Wednesday.


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