Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister) Brian Cowen is canceling an important upcoming visit to the United States to focus on his nation's suffering economy, IrishCentral.com has learned.

Instead of making a New York appearance at the influential American Ireland Fund, it is believed he will attend a conference in Prague which will deal with the Lisbon Treaty -- which Ireland refused to pass last year . A future referendum in Ireland on Lison is expected later this year.

He was to be honored at the May 7 New York gala, the highlight of the Irish summer social calenda,  with New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and senior executives from FTI Consulting.

Now it is expected that Irish Foreign Minster Micheal Martin will take his place, as well as filling in for him at a conference on the Diaspora and its impact on investment in Ireland. That forum is being hosted by two New York Irish business groups.

Ireland’s failure to pass the Lisbon Treaty, which would have updated the European Unionn constitution, has caused major bad blood for the country among its European allies. Cowen has clearly decided to pay attention to that issue rather than come to the U.S.

His most-recent American trip was in March, in which he met with President Obama and many Irish American officials at a White House reception.