BRITISH Prime Minister Theresa May has declined an invitation by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to address Ireland's Dáil during a planned state visit later this month.
In what will be May's first official visit to Ireland as Prime Minister, Mr Kenny had extended an invitiation for her to become only the second British leader in history to address the chamber.
But due to what has been described as a busy schedule, the British PM will not be making what would be an historic speech in Ireland's main parliamentary chamber.
Speaking to the Dáil, the Taoiseach said: “My understanding is that the Prime Minister’s schedule will not allow that to happen and I am not in control of that schedule.”
A representative from 10 Downing Street told The Irish Post that while Mrs May will be unavailable to address Irish politicans on this occasion she would be proud to accept any future invitations.
If the Prime Minister had accepted the invitation she would have become the first ever Conservative Prime Minister to address Ireland’s Dáil chamber - though not the first British Prime Minister to do.
In 1998 former Labour PM Tony Blair was met with a standing ovation by members from both the Dáil and Seanad following an historic speech.
In his post-Good Friday Agreement speech, Mr Blair said: “Let us not underestimate how far we have come. And let us agree that we have come too far to go back now.”
Both Mrs May and Mr Kenny have held a series of talks since Britain voted to leave the European Union last June.
Although the Prime Minister's schedule for her upcoming Irish trip is yet to be confirmed, it is widely assumed that the two leaders will meet to continue Brexit discussions.
In a statement yesterday regarding the British Supreme Court's decision to give Parliament a vote on Article 50, Ireland's Minister for Forgein Affairs and Trade Charlie Flanagan said: "The Government's preparations for the upcoming negotiations on the UK's withdrawal from the EU have been extensive and comprehensive.
"Our priorities in these negotiations remain our citizens, our economy, Northern Ireland, our Common Travel Area and the future of the EU itself."