St Patrick's Day trips abroad for 23 officials


TAOISEACH BRIAN Cowen will celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Washington, while 10 other Cabinet Ministers, 11 junior ministers and the Attorney General will travel abroad to represent Ireland on its national day.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, will join the Taoiseach for the celebrations in the White House and other Ministers will travel around the world to promote Ireland on March 17th.

Announcing the programme last night the Taoiseach said all ministerial visits would have a strong focus on the promotion of trade, investment and tourism.

“St Patrick’s Day is a day of national celebration for Irish people and for our diaspora all round the world. It gives Ireland a unique global platform and an opportunity to reflect on all that is best in our country.”

Mr Cowen added that this year the focus of the programme was firmly on creating jobs.

“The road to economic recovery and new jobs for our people is through innovating at home and growing our exports abroad. We can and will create the new jobs of the future through international trade, investment, tourism and the smart economy.”

He said that was why Ministers would be visiting 16 of our main trading partners, as well as significant emerging markets in Europe and Asia.

“We are sending out a positive message about Ireland. We are tackling our economic problems head-on, we are creating the conditions for economic recovery and we are firmly focused on creating new jobs to tap into the great talents of our people,” the Taoiseach said.

The key elements of the Taoiseach’s programme will be the presentation of the shamrock to President Barack Obama as well as a meeting between the Taoiseach and the president in the Oval Office that will cover the push for global economic recovery, recent developments in Northern Ireland, European and international issues and Ireland-US relations.

He will also attend a St Patrick’s Day lunch on Capitol Hill, hosted by the speaker of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and will meet vice-president Joe Biden and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.

The Taoiseach will also travel to Chicago to meet Irish community representatives as well as political leaders, including governor Pat Quinn and mayor Richard M Daley and he will travel on to California for business and trade promotion events in Silicon Valley.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Mary Coughlan will travel to Germany for engagements in Munich, Berlin and Dusseldorf.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food Brendan Smith will visit Rome and Milan where he will be promoting Irish food exports.

Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern will visit Paris while Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey will travel to Atlanta in the US to meet companies which have major investments in Ireland.

Minister for Communications Eamon Ryan will travel to India while Minister for Education Batt O’Keeffe will visit Japan and Korea.

Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Éamon Ó Cuív will visit Poland and Austria.

Minister for Health Mary Harney travel to New Zealand, the Minister for Social and Family Affairs Mary Hanafin will go to the US, to speak at a lunch hosted by the Irish American Business Chamber and Network in Philadelphia, while Government Chief Whip Pat Carey will visit Houston and Dallas.

The other junior ministers travelling abroad are Minister for Children Barry Andrews, who will speak at an event in New York, while John Curran, the Minister with responsibility for the National Drugs Strategy, will visit London and Birmingham, and junior health minister John Moloney will travel to Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Junior minister for the environment Michael Finneran will visit China while the Minister for Trade and Commerce, Billy Kelleher, will travel to Australia.

Junior enterprise minister Dara Calleary will be in Canada and Boston while Europe Minister Dick Roche will visit Russia.

Áine Brady, junior minister responsible for the elderly, will visit Norway, Sweden and Denmark while OPW Minister Martin Mansergh will travel to Holland and Belgium.

Overseas aid Minister Peter Power will be in South Africa and Lesotho.

Science and Technology Minister Conor Lenihan will travel to Vietnam while the Attorney General, Paul Gallagher, will speak at a function in Dubai.