World

Talks to save Belfast power-sharing keep leaders away from White House on St Patrick's Day

  • Texas Governor Greg Abbott, right, talks with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the Governor's Mansion in Austin, Texas, Sunday, March 15, 2015.  (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Ricardo B. Brazziell)

    Texas Governor Greg Abbott, right, talks with Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at the Governor's Mansion in Austin, Texas, Sunday, March 15, 2015. (AP Photo/Austin American-Statesman, Ricardo B. Brazziell)  (The Associated Press)

  • Freddy Murphy, of Boston, front left, waves an Irish flag while marching with the LGBT community advocacy group Boston Pride during the St. Patrick's Day parade, Sunday, March 15, 2015, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. Until now, gay rights groups have been barred by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council from marching in the parade, which draws as many as a million spectators each year. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

    Freddy Murphy, of Boston, front left, waves an Irish flag while marching with the LGBT community advocacy group Boston Pride during the St. Patrick's Day parade, Sunday, March 15, 2015, in Boston's South Boston neighborhood. Until now, gay rights groups have been barred by the South Boston Allied War Veterans Council from marching in the parade, which draws as many as a million spectators each year. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)  (The Associated Press)

It has become a hallmark of the St. Patrick's Day holiday: the entire political elite of Ireland descending on the White House.

Not this year. Northern Ireland's unity government is in turmoil, and its Protestant and Catholic leaders have decided to stay put in Belfast to try to resolve their troubles. At risk is an 8-year-old governing coalition of British Protestants and Irish Catholics, a cornerstone of peacemaking for the British territory.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness spent Monday leading their parties in Belfast negotiations. Robinson's Democratic Unionists represent most Protestants, McGuinness' Sinn Fein most Catholics.

The Republic of Ireland's prime minister, Enda Kenny, and the Sinn Fein party leader, Gerry Adams, are among Tuesday's White House guests. Adams has no role in Belfast power-sharing.