Enda Kenny gets White House invite from Donald Trump for St Patrick's Day

Enda Kenny and wife Fionnuala at the White House in 2016 with outgoing POTUS Barack Obama
Enda Kenny and wife Fionnuala at the White House in 2016 with outgoing POTUS Barack Obama

US President-elect Donald Trump has invited Taoiseach Enda Kenny to the White House for St Patrick's Day.

The pair spoke by telephone for 10 minutes on Wednesday night, a government spokeswoman said.

The Taoiseach congratulated Mr Trump on his electoral success and both men committed to working together to the mutual benefit of Ireland and the United States.

"The president-elect confirmed to the Taoiseach that in the spirit of the strong ties between the two countries, the long-standing tradition of Taoisigh attending the White House for St Patrick's Day celebrations would continue and extended an invitation to the Taoiseach in that regard for next year, 2017," the spokeswoman said.

It is tradition for the Taoiseach to travel to Washington on March 17 to present the US president with a bunch of shamrocks, to symbolise close ties between Ireland and America.

Under Ronald Reagan, the ceremony was transformed into all-day celebration including a luncheon in the US Capitol.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Taoiseach told the Dail that "racist and dangerous" remarks made by Mr Trump during the election campaign were made in the "heat of battle".

In a softening of his outspoken rebuke from May, he said he would be happy to work with Mr Trump.

Weeks after making the comments, when asked if he would put that view to the then presidential hopeful in any future meeting, the Taoiseach added: "Certainly. I'd be very happy to."

But pressed again in the Dail hours after the US election result was announced, he appeared to relax his stance.

"I'd be happy to deal with the president in a very constructive way as he has announced to the world that his administration will work to heal the wounds in America, will work to have the American people unite and form partnerships with like-minded countries for opportunities for everybody," he said.