As speculation continues that the IRA is to make a statement about its future, it has been confirmed this evening that two senior Sinn Féin members are to travel to the United States tomorrow. 

According to a Sinn Féin spokesman, Martin McGuinness and Rita O'Hare will travel to the United States to brief Irish Americans on the current political situation. 

Ten years ago, on the eve of the first IRA ceasefire, a former IRA member, Joe Cahill, went to the United States for a number of meetings.

Earlier today, the Minister for Justice, Michael McDowell, said that in recent weeks senior members of Sinn Féin who are members of Dáil Eireann and the British parliament had resigned from the Army Council of the IRA.

Speaking in Dublin, Mr McDowell said other people had replaced them.

The minister added that the expected statement from the IRA on its future should contain clear language showing it is re-casting itself in an entirely peaceful mode.

Mr McDowell said there would be no breakthrough in the Northern Ireland peace process unless the IRA decommissioned 'every pistol and every bullet', and that no quota of arms could be held back.