Ministers cautioned on perks of St Patrick’s Day

Advice for our travelling envoys: no luxurious limousines or tempting first-class flights

Government Ministers have been advised to avoid the use of limousines and stay in “modest” accommodation when they travel abroad for St Patrick’s Day.

The Cabinet considered the details of the annual programme at last week's meeting with Minister for Transport Shane Ross opting to stay at home.

A memo from Minister for Foreign Affairs Charlie Flanagan, seen by The Irish Times, urges Ministers to keep costs to a minimum.

It advises them to stay with embassy staff when abroad and if that is not possible to choose reasonably priced accommodation.


First-class flights cannot be used by Ministers and the use of limousines is to be discouraged, the memo says.

The Department of Foreign Affairs said all ambassadors and consular general have been notified of the guidelines.

Mr Flanagan said Ministers must use the visits to maximise the promotion of Ireland’s trade, tourism and investment interests and to spread a positive message about Ireland’s economy.

Brexit concerns

Mr Flanagan will say all trips must be used to outline Ireland's concerns about the consequences of the British exit from the European Union.

There will be a strong emphasis on visiting European capital cities as part of Ireland’s attempts to seek support ahead of the negotiations on Brexit.

The country should be promoted as a competitive location for sourcing goods and investment and also as an attractive destination for tourism and study, the memo says.

It adds: "St Patrick's Day 2017 will provide a particularly timely platform for Ireland in this regard given the UK Government's stated intention to invoke article 50 by the end of March this year."

Those travelling to the United States must raise the 50,000 undocumented Irish, seek immigration reform and reassure the diaspora there.

Mr Flanagan outlined how St Patrick’s Day is a unique opportunity to promote Ireland’s economic and political interests overseas, due to levels of publicity and media attention unmatched by the national day of any other country.