NORTHERN IRELAND'S First Minister and Deputy First Minister have confirmed they will not be travelling to Washington D.C. for St Patrick's Day this year.
The Executive Office said via spokesperson on Thursday that, due to public health concerns, as well as Covid-19 travel restrictions, Arlene Foster and Michelle O'Neill would be cancelling their planned trip.
It's the second year in a row they've done so, after cancelling last year's visit at the onset of the pandemic.
"Due to the ongoing public health emergency, Executive Office Ministers will not be travelling this year to the United States over the St Patrick's Day period," a spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has received criticism after signalling his intent to go ahead with his trip to meet President Joe Biden at the White House.
Tipperary Independent TD Mattie McGrath slammed Martin for adopting a "do as I say, not as I do" attitude to foreign travel, particularly as Irish citizens are being told they can only travel abroad for 'essential reasons', but some Ministers have defended the decision.
Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told Today FM's The Last Word on Thursday: "The economic and political benefits of the ongoing engagement that we have had with the US is so important to our country.
"If I was to look at what the definition of essential travels are - one of them would be meeting the US President for the betterment of our country.
"If that event is happening, the Taoiseach, I believe, should be at it."