Prime Minister Brian Cowen and U.S. President Barack Obama on St. Patrick's Day at the White House

Read more: Government will go ahead with St. Patrick’s Day junkets

The annual ritual of Saint Patrick's Day visits to the White House will go ahead despite political turmoil and a looming general election.

On Monday the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs maintained it was undertaking "normal preparations" for state representation in the US and elsewhere on Saint Patrick's Day.

Because of the confusion over exactly when the government will call an election, the Department of Foreign Affairs admitted that the number and nature of the Irish delegations representing the state abroad has yet to be decided.

Last week Green party minister Eamon Ryan reportedly wrote to the Irish Prime Minister Brian Cowen proposing that opposition leaders and president McAleese should be asked to represent Ireland abroad.

Another option under consideration is for the government's ambassadors and consul staff to act as stand-ins for the government in light of the unique political situation at home.

"Normal preparations are being undertaken by the department in regard to Saint Patrick's Day events in the US and elsewhere. The number and nature of the delegations has yet to be determined," a Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson told the press. "This is a matter for government decision and it would not be appropriate for the department to comment any further."

Read more: Government will go ahead with St. Patrick’s Day junkets