Sinn Féin has said that a man arrested in Colombia was never the party's Latin American representative.

A party spokesman said that the Cuban Embassy in Dublin accepted that reports that the country's Foreign Minister had identified Niall Connolly as a Sinn Féin representative were untrue.

Earlier, the United States warned that the IRA could face penalties from Washington if it is established that the group has had connections with the FARC guerrilla movement. The three men have been accused of training FARC guerrillas.

State Department spokesman Philip Reeker, noted that both the FARC and the IRA had been designated as foreign terrorist organisations by the United States.

However, the designation had been removed from the IRA because it had adhered to its ceasefire since 1997 and had stressed its commitment to peace.

Mr Reeker said that President Bush's administration would regard any links between the IRA and the FARC as troubling.

The three men have denied any links with the two groups and have claimed they were in Colombia as tourists. However, Gardaí have said that all three are known to be members of the IRA.

The SDLP leader, John Hume, and the former Minister for Foreign Affairs, David Andrews, have both called on Republicans to clarify the situation.