Friday 15 December 2017

May 'did not snub invite to make Dáil speech'

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: REUTERS/Stefan Wermuth
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Downing Street has denied that Theresa May snubbed a historic invitation to address Dáil Eireann, arguing she never received "a formal invitation".

There were conflicting versions of events from Dublin and London last night, after representatives for Mr Kenny said the invitation, proposed by Ceann Comhairle Seán Ó Fearghaíl, "was passed on".

A spokesperson for the Taoiseach said Downing Street was fully aware that the Ceann Comhairle would afford Mrs May the chance to become only the second British prime minister in history to make a Dáil speech.

The row came after Mr Kenny revealed his "understanding" was that Mrs May's "schedule will not allow that to happen". "I am not in control of that schedule," he told TDs. In response, No 10 Downing Street told the Irish Independent that planning for her trip was still ongoing.

"We have not had a formal invitation from the Dáil. It is definitely not a refusal," it said.

Details of Mrs May's visit are being closely guarded, but it is understood that she will travel to Dublin on Monday.

The only previous British prime minister to address the Dáil was Tony Blair in 1998.

Speaking about Mrs May's plans in the Dáil yesterday, Mr Kenny said: "My understanding is that the visit was to come to Government Buildings to have a taoiseach-to-prime minister discussion, and to follow that with a particular set of issues.

"It is around this that the visit will take place."

Mr Ó Fearghaíl told the Irish Independent he was "disappointed" that the prime minister's schedule would not allow for an address.

"I am hopeful that the prime minister will accept an invitation to address the Dáil at another time in the near future, perhaps as the implications of Brexit on our two nations becomes more focused," he said.

Irish Independent

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