Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been forced to cancel a number of engagements in the United States due to the forecast of adverse weather conditions.

Storm Stella is expected to bring two feet of snow and extreme blizzard conditions to the north east of the US in the next 24-48 hours.

A number of engagements in Boston this evening were cancelled and a planned trip to Rhode Island tomorrow also fell victim to the weather.

Mr Kenny will now travel straight to Washington DC tonight to ensure he is there in time for a programme of events on Wednesday and Thursday.

A Government spokesman said: "The priority at this stage is getting to Washington."

The visit of the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to the White House has been rescheduled to Friday, because of the adverse weather conditions.

This means that Mr Kenny will be the first European Union leader to meet President Trump since Theresa May's visit.

The National Weather Service issued blizzard warnings for parts of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Connecticut, with forecasts calling for up to 60cm of snow in places by early Wednesday, with temperatures well below normal for this time of year.

Some 50 million people along the Eastern Seaboard were understorm or blizzard warnings and watches.     

Earlier, Mayor of Boston Martin Walsh told the Taoiseach he could not say anything to alleviate the concerns of illegal Irish immigrants in the city in the wake of President Trump's various immigration-related executive orders.

Mr Walsh, both of whose parents were born in Ireland, held a meeting with the Mr Kenny at Boston City Hall.

Immigration was top of the agenda and Mr Walsh said he commended the Taoiseach for going to the White House to raise the issues of concern to immigrants.

He said he could not say anything to alleviate the fears of those in Boston, other than it was a sanctuary city and that he would protect that status.

In the US, a sanctuary city is the term given to locations that turn a 'blind eye' to law-abiding undocumented immigrants.

Mr Walsh said the Boston police force would not be deputised into doing the deportation work of federal authorities.

He said he was not "comfortable" about where the US was as a country at the moment but he was hopeful that eventually a solution would be found, rather than "accusing folks of being illegal and calling them criminals".

Mr Walsh said that although he was the "proud son" of Irish immigrants he would not be in favour of a solution that was only for Irish illegal immigrants, or any other one grouping.

The Taoiseach agreed with him and said he did not agree with "blanket bans" and that it was not about "picking and choosing" immigrants.

He said he could not comment on the executive actions President Trump had taken, but that he had to just work with the situation, but that he would be speaking in a direct but general way when they met on Friday.

Appearing to allude to the anti-EU rhetoric coming from the Trump administration lately, Mr Kenny also said during his trip to Washington DC, he had "a job of work to do in making everyone understand just what the European Union is".