27 ministers to visit 23 countries for St Patrick’s Day
Ministers and junior ministers attending events in 35 cities across the world
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Eamon Gilmore (left), and Minister for Transport, Tourism, and Sport , Leo Varadkar, at the launch of Tourism Ireland Global Greening 2014 , in Dublin last Wednewsday. The annual initiative sees a variety of major landmarks around the world turn green for St Patrick’s Day. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times
The programme for the annual exodus of Government Ministers abroad for St Patrick’s Day has as many long-haul destinations this year as during the years leading up to the bailout in 2010.
The programme announced this morning includes ten visits to destinations in the North Americas and a further six visits by Ministers and Ministers of State to the Middle East, the Far East and Australasia.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny will visit three cities (Washington DC, New York and Boston) during his visit to the US.
In previous years at the height of the recession the extent of trips abroad was pared back.
Only two visits have this year been scheduled to Britain. They are the planned visit of Pat Rabbitte to Birmingham and London and that of Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan to Scotland.
The only senior Minister who will not be travelling is Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn.
Those who are going to the North Americas are: Michael Noonan (Canada); Joan Burton (New York); Jimmy Deenihan (San Francisco); Alan Shatter (Mexico); James Reilly (Boston and Cleveland); Leo Varadkar (Atlanta and Savannah); Maire Whelan, Attorney General (Washington DC); Dinny McGinley (Pittsburgh and Philadelphia); Sean Sherlock (Chicage and Kansas).
Other who are going on long-haul journeys are: Brendan Howlin (China); Phil Hogan (United Arab Emirates); Simon Coveney (New Zealand and Eastern Australia); Frances Fitzgerald (Japan and Korea); Kathleen Lynch (Vietnam); Alan Kelly (Western Australia); Paul Kehoe (Lebanon).
Most of the other Ministers are going to European cities. Among those are Tom Hayes of Fine Gael who is going to Norway and Minister of State Alex White who is travelling to Russia.
Successive Governments have justified the trips abroad - and the costs involved that run into millions of euro - on the basis that it gives an unparalleled opportunity to market and sell the Irish brand on St Patrick’s Day, in the US and elsewhere.
The emphasis on the Far East and the Australasia reflects Government policy of focusing more on those markets. However, one unusual aspect is that there are no trips to either India or to any South American country.
Argentina used to be a regular destination on St Patrick’s Day and there have also been suggestions that Brazil should have been included on the itinerary, given its emergence as an economic powerhouse in recent years.
Ministers will travel to the following locations: |
US - Taoiseach
France - Tánaiste
Canada - Michael Noonan
China - Brendan Howlin
Italy - Richard Bruton
New York - Joan Burton
San Francisco - Jimmy Deenihan
London and Birmingham - Pat Rabbitte
United Arab Emirates - Phil Hogan
Mexico - Alan Shatter
New Zealand and Eastern Australia - Simon Coveney
Japan and Korea - Frances Fitzgerald
Boston and Cleveland - James Reilly
Atlanta and Savannah - Minister Leo Varadkar
Washington DC - Attorney General Máire Whelan SC
Lebanon - Paul Kehoe
Scotland - Jan O’Sullivan
Pittsburgh and Philadelphia - Dinny McGinley
Spain - John Perry
Netherlands - Michael Ring
Vietnam - Kathleen Lynch
Germany - Fergus O’Dowd
Chicago and Kansas City - Sean Sherlock
Romania - Ciaran Cannon
Western Australia - Alan Kelly
Russia - Alex White
Norway - Tom Hayes
Belgium and Luxembourg - Paschal Donohoe