President Micheal D Higgins has pulled out of attending a civic dinner in Belfast to mark the centenary of the Easter Rising.
President Higgins was due to be guest of honour at the commemorative event in Belfast City Hall on April 8.
It is understood the fact the occasion has not garnered enough cross-party support, with a number of unionists declining invitations, motivated the President’s decision to stay away.
Sinn Féin Lord Mayor Arder Carson received a letter from the President outlining his reasons for pulling out.
Mr Carson said: “Both personally, and on behalf of Belfast City Council, I am extremely disappointed that the President is no longer attending this event, part of our Decade of Centenaries programme.
“The overall programme for the decade was agreed by full council and has cross-party support, and that position has not changed.
The dinner will, of course, be going ahead on April 8 and I am very much looking forward to the occasion.”
A spokesman for Áras an Uachtaráin confirmed President Higgins would not be attending.
“The President accepted the invitation to the civic dinner on the basis that there was cross-party support for the invitation,” he said.
“This now is no longer the case, leaving the President with no other option but to withdraw, as he does not want to become embroiled in matters of political controversy.”
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