Two high-profile Sinn Féin representatives have been denied entry to the US, despite speculation that the ban on party members fundraising in the country could soon be lifted.
Conor Murphy MP and Tyrone representative Barry McElduff had been due to travel to Boston earlier this week for a series of meetings and to take part in a number of events including a 1981 Hunger Strike commemoration.
However they were forced to cancel the trip after their visas were refused.
Mr Murphy, who is also assembly member for Newry and South Armagh, said he had been told the applications were declined because they were unable to be processed in time.
“I accept this explanation and I do not believe that anything political lies behind this decision,” he said.
“While I am disappointed not be able to fulfil this commitment, the events will go ahead as planned and a number of other Sinn Féin representatives, including assembly member Davy Hyland, have travelled to Boston to take part in the planned programme.”
A US spokesman said: “Due to privacy laws the consulate does not comment on individual visa applications.’’
Meanwhile, it is being reported that the US administration is being pressed to allow Gerry Adams attend a gala dinner next month in New York following the endorsement by the Dublin and London governments of the Provisional IRA’s cessation of activity.
The ban was imposed on Sinn Féin members last year in an apparent bid to pressure the party into joining the Policing Board.
However, with the governments’ glowing assessment of the IRA as an organisation “firmly set on a political strategy, eschewing terrorism and other forms of crime”, pressure is growing for the ban to be lifted.