Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and eight other Ministers will embark on a “modest and balanced” programme of international travel for the St Patrick’s Day holiday to promote Ireland abroad.
The Cabinet on Tuesday approved the list of St Patrick’s Day ministerial visits, with Mr Varadkar once again visiting US president Donald Trump in Washington.
The number of Ministers travelling has been limited due to ongoing talks to form a new government in the aftermath of last month’s general election.
A similarly curtailed programme was drawn up in March 2016 when a new government was also being formed after that year’s February general election.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney brought the list of ministerial engagements to Cabinet on Tuesday and his memo to the meeting outlined two criteria for choosing the European and North American cities involved.
The criteria were whether the cities are “destinations of indisputable and immediate value to our interests” and “destinations that have a significant diaspora community”.
“The Tánaiste told the Cabinet that the list was modest and balanced and should proceed given the unique opportunity to promote Ireland to political, business and cultural audiences,” Mr Coveney’s spokesman said.
Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Education Joe McHugh will remain at home to deal with the coronavirus threat. Only Ministers who attend Cabinet meetings will travel.
Mr Coveney will travel to New York, Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe will visit Paris and Brussels, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will travel to Berlin, Minister for Business Heather Humphreys will visit Sacramento on the US west coast and Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed will go to Chicago. Minister for Rural Development Michael Ring will be in Boston, Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe will travel to Savannah, Georgia, in the US, Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan will go to London and Attorney General Seamus Woulfe will travel to New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
All Ministers travelling will be given a handbook with key messages the Government wants emphasised. These include that Ireland will remain a dedicated member of the EU and is working towards a close future trading relationship with the UK, highlighting the “political turning point” in Northern Ireland with the restoration of the Stormont institutions and to “promote Ireland’s economy and global visibility”.
Mr Coveney also asked his ministerial colleagues that their travelling delegations be “kept to a minimum” and that they do not fly first class, take hotel suites and hire limousines.