Page last updated at 08:07 GMT, Friday, 14 March 2008

Politicians head for White House

White House
The White House is the focus of Irish celebrations

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness is leading a delegation to the United States for St Patrick's Day celebrations at the White House.

First Minister Ian Paisley is not attending but junior minister Jeffrey Donaldson is going in his place.

Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will participate in traditional shamrock ceremony with President George Bush.

The leaders will hold talks and then meet NI Secretary Shaun Woodward and other political and business delegates.

The White House said the shamrock ceremony symbolises the "deep cultural roots and close ties of friendship" between the United States and Ireland.

Mr Ahern told the Dail on Wednesday that the celebrations surrounding the national holiday on 17 March provides a "framework to showcase modern Ireland all over the world".

He added: "It is used by us as a marketing opportunity."

Meanwhile, Mayor of New York Michael Bloomberg has confirmed he will attend a major economic investment conference in Belfast in May.

White House celebrates St Patrick's Day
17 Mar 06 |  Northern Ireland
Strange bedfellows at Paddy's shindig
17 Mar 07 |  Northern Ireland

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