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Donald Trump and Leo Varadkar in the White House last year. Brian Lawless/PA Images
Not happening

The annual White House shamrock reception has been cancelled

Leo Varadkar will still meet with Donald Trump but the usual reception will not take place.

THE ANNUAL ST. Patrick’s reception at the White House has been cancelled, as have several St Patrick’s Day parades including those in Dublin and New York.

The move became apparent late on last night when it was not included on US President Donald Trump’s daily schedule for Thursday.

However, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar remains scheduled to visit the White House later today where he is expected to meet with President Trump and take part in an “extended bilateral” discussion.

It is not yet known if the traditional shamrock bowl handover will happen at another time during the day, perhaps at the Oval Office meeting.

It came after President Trump announced he was suspending all travel between the United States and Europe – excluding the UK and Ireland – for 30 days starting on Friday as he seeks to combat coronavirus.

It also followed the cancellation of a range of St Patrick’s Day parades in cities including New York, Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia, and Dublin.

It is the first time the New York parade has been cancelled in its 258-year history.

That parade, honouring Irish heritage, dates back longer than the United States and draws tens of thousands of marchers and throngs of spectators to Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue each year.

The White House reception includes a shamrock ceremony and takes place every year ahead of St Patrick’s Day.

The Taoiseach arrived in Washington DC yesterday – a day later than planned due to contending with Covid-19 in Ireland – where he addressed the Ireland Funds gala dinner at the National Building Museum. 

When the news of the travel ban broke last night, the Taoiseach left the event to be briefed by officials.Varadkar left the event without speaking to the media but is due to speak to the media at 11am Irish-time. 

- With reporting by Christina Finn

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