Taoiseach’s St Patrick’s Day visit to US should go ahead, Coveney says

Taoiseach would observe strict testing protocols before, during and after visit, Coveney said

The tradition of the Irish taoiseach of the day presenting the US president with a bowl of shamrocks on St Patrick’s Day dates back to 1956. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

The tradition of the Irish taoiseach of the day presenting the US president with a bowl of shamrocks on St Patrick’s Day dates back to 1956. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

 

Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney has said that he believes the Taoiseach Micheál Martin should to go to Washington DC for the traditional St Patrick’s Day meeting in the White House.

“The Taoiseach should go in a manner which is safe,” he told Newstalk’s Pat Kenny show.

Mr Martin would not pose a public health threat to US President Biden, he said.

The Taoiseach would observe strict testing protocols before, during and after the visit, Mr Coveney said.

It was not yet clear whether the Taoiseach would be required to be vaccinated before making the trip, he added. “I don’t have a clear answer to that.”

Speaking to CNN on January 22nd, the Taoiseach said that no decisions had yet been made in relation to the annual White House engagement but that officials would engage and do what was safe in the context of Covid-19.

“Both of us are very keen to cement that very historic relationship between the United States of America and Ireland which goes back through the ages now,” Mr Martin said of himself and Mr Biden.

Last year’s visit by then taoiseach Leo Varadkar to former president Donald Trump was cut short amid the first coronavirus outbreak.

The tradition of the Irish taoiseach of the day presenting the US president with a bowl of shamrocks on St Patrick’s Day dates back to 1956, and the exchange will receive renewed vigour this year given the strong ancestral ties Mr Biden has to Ireland.