PM turns down Dáil address

PM turns down Dail address
Prime Minister Theresa May meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at 10 Downing Street, London, 26/7/2016

Theresa May has declined the opportunity to address the Dáil during her first official visit to Ireland as Prime Minister.

She is to meet with Taoiseach Enda Kenny in Dublin to discuss Brexit and the Irish PM had invited her to speak before TDs.

It would have been an historic event – had she accepted, Mrs May would have been the first Tory leader and only the second British Prime Minister to address the Irish Parliament, following on from Tony Blair’s groundbreaking appearance in 1998.

PM turns down Dail address
The British Prime Minister Mr Tony Blair listening to the Ceann Comhairle Mr Seamus Pattison before addressing the joint houses of the Oireachtas at Leinster House in 1998. Image: PHOTOCALL IRELAND

The invitation was originally prompted by the Green Party and advanced by the Ceann Comhairle – the house speaker – but Mr Kenny said that he understood his UK counterpart had declined the offer.

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

“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.”

The PM’s action has caused quite a stir in the UK’s political realm, with Nick Clegg tweeting:

Mr Kenny visited Mrs May in Downing Street in July last year to discuss the initial implications of Brexit.

PM turns down Dail address
Prime Minister Theresa May meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at 10 Downing Street, London.

On that occasion, both leaders stressed that there would be “no return to the hard borders of the past”.

They have reiterated this point in several speeches since and have added that the two nations will need to work together to maintain their unique relationship.

During that initial meeting, the two also agreed to engage in annual bi-lateral meetings and promised to work closely as the UK moves towards leaving the European Union.

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’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon got a standing ovation when she addressed the upper house of parliament, the Seanad.


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