Enda Kenny will accept St Patrick's Day invitation

At a press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the Taoiseach also called for a "complete review" of the pre-clearance facilities in Ireland

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he will accept an invitation from President Donald Trump to visit the United Stated on St Patrick's Day this year.

Explaining his reasoning for the decision at a press conference with UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Mr Kenny said the invitation "has been extended for many many years".

"I think it's really important that I be able to say face-to-face to the President the issues that are of importance to us", he said. "I don't want a situation where the 35 million Irish-Americans who sign on for connections with this country or the 50,000 undocumented Irish that are in the States are left without contact or connection.

Mr Kenny went on to say Ireland still has a "huge influence" on the US and said abandoning the visit meant Ireland risked becoming "isolationist".

#MuslimBan

On President Trump's recent restrictive anti-immigration policy, Mr Kenny said he did not agree with it and would express his disagreement to the president when he meets him in March.

The Taoiseach also called for a "complete review" of the running of the United States' pre-clearance facilities in Ireland, after the Department of Transport confirmed one person had been stopped from travelling to the US under the new rules.

A group of seven human rights groups had earlier called for a full review, amid claims it could force Irish officials to break their own law.

Speaking about the UK's immigration policy, Mrs May said he country adopted "a different approach".

Brexit

At the press conference, Prime Minister Theresa May said she is "personally committed" to strengthening the UK's relationship with Ireland post-Brexit, with Mr Kenny stressing his want to avoid a hard border.

Mrs May confirmed debate on Article 50 will start in the House of  Commons tomorrow, and that the government must put the will of the people into practice.

Northern Ireland

Both leaders said they have been "unequivocal" in their support for the political process in Northern Ireland.

Mr Kenny said: "We hope the current election campaign will be calm and respectful"