Europe

White House confirms St Patrick's Day invitation to Enda Kenny

Enda Kenny Image copyright EPA
Image caption Enda Kenny was first invited to the White House in November, when he phoned Donald Trump to congratulate him on his election victory

A St Patrick's Day invitation from US President Donald Trump to Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Enda Kenny has been confirmed by the White House.

Traditionally, Irish leaders attend to present the US president with a bowl of shamrock during the 17 March festival.

Mr Trump first mentioned the invitation in November, when Mr Kenny phoned to congratulate him on his election win.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has now given an update on plans for the visit during a media briefing.

Mr Spicer, who has Irish American heritage, told reporters that the St Patrick's Day reception was "an issue that's near and dear to me".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption White House press secretary Sean Spicer traces his Irish ancestry to County Cork

"I was asked yesterday about the status of the invitation of Prime Minister Kenny, from Ireland, to visit the United States on St Patrick's Day and I'm pleased to announce that the president has extended that invitation.

"It happened, actually, during the transition period [from the Obama to Trump administrations] and we look forward to the prime minister attending."

Mr Kenny, who has been taoiseach since March 2011, has attended several previous St Patrick's Day receptions hosted by Barack Obama.

The shamrock presentation dates back to the presidency of Harry Truman in the 1950s.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Last year, Barack Obama hosted his final St Patrick's Day visit from Enda Kenny

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