Donald Trump declines invitation to annual St Patrick's lunch on Capitol Hill

Donald Trump declines invitation to annual St Patrick's lunch on Capitol Hill

PRESIDENT DONALD Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will not be in attendance for the annual St Patrick’s Day lunch on Capitol Hill this coming Thursday.

The White House has confirmed that the President and his V.P. have declined an invitation to the traditional bipartisan event celebrating the special relationship between the US and Ireland, which is being hosted by the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

"Since the Speaker has chosen to tear this Nation apart with her actions and her rhetoric, the President will not participate in moments where she so often chooses to drive discord and disunity, and will instead celebrate the rich history and strong ties between the United States and Ireland at the White House on March 12," White House deputy press secretary Judd Deere said in a statement.

"The relationship between our two countries has never been stronger, and the President looks forward to welcoming the Prime Minister of Ireland for the annual Shamrock Bowl presentation."

It will mark the first time since the founding of the event more than 30 years ago that neither the president nor vice president will be in attendance.

Held annually since 1987, there have only been four occasions when a sitting president was not present and in each of those instances, the vice president appeared in their place.

Leo Varadkar is expected to attend the event.

The decision is further evidence of the tensions between Trump and Pelosi.

It also represents a new low, just a month on from the President’s State of the Union address, which saw the pair involved in a series of ugly exchanges that began when Trump refused to shake Pelosi’s hand and ended when she later ripped up a copy of his speech.

The decision has nevertheless drawn criticism from Nancy Pelosi's spokesperson Drew Hammill.

"There has never been stronger support in the Congress and in the country for the US-Ireland bilateral relationship. One would think that the White House could set petty, partisan politics aside for this historic occasion," he said.

Pelosi and Trump have not appeared together singe the National Prayer Breakfast on February 6.