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

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

Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 13:30

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

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