Martin ‘feeling good’ and will keep working after positive Covid test

Taoiseach accepts he might have to miss EU leaders’ meeting in Brussels next week

Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he is "feeling good" and will continue to work following testing positive for Covid-19 on the eve of his planned meeting with US president Joe Biden in the White House.

Mr Martin said on Thursday that he was disappointed at having to hold a meeting with the president virtually rather than in person.

However, he said it was “not the end of the world” and things had to be kept in perspective given what was happening across the world.

Speaking on a Zoom call with Irish journalists from Blair House, the US government residence for important guests close to the White House, Mr Martin said he had had a good and warm conversation with Mr Biden.

He said he would have to remain in Washington for a number of days and would be in daily contact with colleagues and Government officials.

“We will take it day by day and step by step,” he said.

The Taoiseach accepted he might have to miss the planned meeting of EU leaders scheduled for next week.

“That is very much a possibility,” he said.

He said he had discussed with the president the views of companies – both in Ireland and in America – that there should be greater room to enable professional expertise and staff to move to and from in terms of legal channels and visas.

He said the two leaders agreed to follow up “in terms of ensuring that we can smooth that in the interests of the strong robust economic relations between Ireland and the United States”.

He said in addition they had spoken positively about expanding graduate and internship programme to create as many channels as possible for young people to move between Ireland and the US and vice-versa.

The Taoiseach said also raised the issue of undocumented Irish people living in the US.

“That is something that has to be fought for on Capitol Hill,” he said.

Mr Martin said he had updated the president on the Belfast Agreement, the Northern Ireland protocol and the talks under way between the UK and the EU as well as the forthcoming elections.

He said the president had paid very strong tribute to the Ireland's humanitarian response to the war in Ukraine and the country's proactive approach in relation to sanctions against Russia.

Mr Martin said the president was conscious of the costs incurred by some sections of industry in Ireland which had been affected by sanctions such as aircraft leasing.

The Taoiseach said he had invited Mr Biden to Ireland. He said the president indicated he would very much like to visit when the opportunity arose.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent