image source, TOBY MELVILLE image caption President Higgins with the Queen and her deceased husband Prince Philip at Windsor Castle in 2014.
Irish President Michael D Higgins has declined an invitation to attend a church service with the Queen next month to mark the centenary of Northern Ireland.
The ser vice takes place in the town of Armagh at the end of October.
M . Higgins 'non-attendance was criticized by Unionist politicians, who asked if he was a "snobofficial "centenary events.
A spokesperson for the president said he was unable to attend.
It is understood that he was expected at the event.
The spokesperson said it had been communicated to your organizers and the President conveyed his wishes to the Queen.
"The President welcomed and continues to welcome all opportunities to meet Her Majesty and members of her family, "said the spokesperson.
Catholic Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin , will be present with the heads of the Church of Ireland, the Presbyterian Church of Ireland, the Methodist Churchdiste of Ireland and the Irish Council of Churches.
Was this a conflict of date, or wa Is it political?
Analysis by Mark Simpson of Hfrance.fr News NI
The organizers of the religious service scheduled for Armagh next month insisted that 'it be crossed. community and cross-.
The image of the UK and Irish heads of state - the Queen and President Higgins - side by side in service would have been a powerful image.
The invitation list was never released, but it was widely believed that it would be in the lead.
Attention will now focus on the reasons for the president's decision Higgins to decline his invitation.
Was it a conflict of dates? Was it a practical decision? Or was it political?
Trade unionists are looking for answers. Church leaders remain silent.
Until now, Ireland's centenary year of the Nord has passed without much controversy and churches will try to ensure that their service in Armagh does not become the center of a political storm.
In a statement, church leaders said the service of "reflection and hope " will mark the centenary of the partition of Ireland and the formation of the North Ireland. Ireland.
The interfaith service is organized by the leaders of the major Christian churches and it is believed that an invitation was extended to the Queen as well.
Created for October 21, the service has been part of the centenary program for 100 years since the founding of Northern Ireland in May 1921 after the partition of Ireland.
President Higgins 'office did not donate specific details on why he will not be serving.
DUP MP Peter Weir said he asked the president's office if he was joining a " "nationalist boycott of centennial events.
" If President Higgins officially snubs NI centennial events, I have urged him to think again, "Weir said .
"This island has lived through a decade of century-old milestones.
" At every step, unionism has positively engaged and sought to use such events to advancing reconciliation and peace. "
President Higgins was in Italy addressing the Arraiolos group of EU presidents in Italy on Wednesday, and is meeting with Pope Francis in the Vatican selldi.