THE TAOISEACH’S annual trip to Washington DC for St Patrick’s Day has been officially cancelled.
Micheál Martin and US President Joe Biden will now meet virtually to mark the occasion.
Irish government officials are working with Washington DC to iron out the final details on how the two world leaders will meet virtually.
It comes just days after Martin indicated he would be willing to make the annual trip to Washington DC if officially invited.
The Taoiseach also confirmed he would be happy to get the Covid-10 vaccine for the St Patrick’s Day trip if he was required to.
Martin told Newstalk Breakfast: "Both administrations, the President and I are very keen to cement the Irish relationship, to strengthen it during the term of an Irish-American President of the quality of Joe Biden.
"We will do this in the optimal way, we will represent on St Patrick's Day as we always do.
"Obviously Covid-19 places a new context on that so officials are working on how best to mark St Patrick's Day.
"If it was agreed and if an invite was to arrive, if I was to travel to Washington then I think vaccination would be the wise move in that sense."
At the time, Martin dismissed criticism of his plans to travel to the US, despite Ireland being under strict travel restrictions and the notion that he would be jumping the queue to receive a vaccine.
He said: "We're not terrified of vaccinating ministers, I do think the Foreign Minister and those who travel a lot should be vaccinated with the context of the security council, but we did have a view that the residents and staff in nursing homes and the frontline healthcare workers should be vaccinated first.
"I believe that in respect of the roles of the Office of An Taoiseach that this is a very important occasion, most countries would appreciate the opportunity to meet the President of the United States or have that unique opportunity of St Patrick's Day.
"I think there are important issues on the economic front and like with a number of Irish Americans in his administration we can develop partnerships on a number of fronts across the board and I would be anxious to pursue that with the new administration."
The Northern Ireland First Minister and Deputy First Minister had already cancelled their planned trip to the States given the continued situation surrounding coronavirus.
However, Martin had appeared on course to continue the St Patrick’s Day tradition that sees the Taoiseach exchange a Shamrock Bowl with the US President.
Last year, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar cancelled the visit in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
And with health officials confirming that the rate of Covid-19 transmission remains “extremely high” in Ireland, Martin has now taken the decision to cancel his visit.
The cancellation comes with Deputy Chief Medical Officer Dr Ronan Glynn confirming that while the country has "made progress" there is still work to be done.
He said: “We have made progress in Ireland over recent weeks, but the rate of transmission of the disease is still extremely high and the risks Covid-19 poses to our vulnerable loved ones have not changed.”
“Everyone is working hard to drive down Covid-19 infection in the community, and we must all continue to limit the number of daily contacts we have.
"The only way to limit the spread of Covid-19 is to limit our social contacts and follow the public health advice, wash our hands, maintain a social distance, wear a face covering where appropriate, work from home and stay at home.”