May declines invitation to address Irish parliament

Theresa May.
Theresa May.

Theresa May has declined an invitation to make a historic address to the Irish parliament.

The Prime Minister was asked by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to give a speech in the Dail during a one-day official visit to Ireland before the end of the month.

She would have been the first Tory leader, and only the second British prime minister, to speak before Dublin’s parliament - following on from Tony Blair’s ground-breaking address in 1998.

But Mr Kenny has indicated that Mrs May has turned down the offer, originally advanced by the house speaker, or Ceann Comhairle, on a suggestion from the Green Party.

“My understanding is that the Prime Minister’s schedule will not allow that to happen and I am not in control of that schedule,” Mr Kenny told the Dail.

“Obviously, when details are absolutely finalised, we will be aware of those.

“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.”

Mrs May and Mr Kenny are due to meet in Dublin to discuss Brexit.

Green Party leader Eamon Ryan had said it was vitally important that Mrs May sets out her views on how Brexit will affect Ireland during her visit.

Last November, Scotland First Minister Nicola Sturgeon got a standing ovation when she addressed the upper house of parliament, the Seanad.