Annual St Patrick’s Day exodus sees Ministers favouring US
Varadkar heads to Washington and New York, Coveney goes to China
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar leaving a meeting with Texas governor Greg Abbott in Austin on Sunday. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire
The annual exodus of Government ministers and officials for St Patrick’s Day Day events is well underway with the United States, as usual, topping the list of destinations.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar leads the Irish invasion of America, and having attended events in Texas and Oklahoma, heads to Washington on Tuesday for the traditional meetings at the White House and Capitol Hill later this week. After Washington, the Taoiseach will go to New York for a series of engagements, including the St Patrick’s Day parade in the city.
Cabinet ministers Heather Humphreys and Michael Ring are also visiting venues in the US for the celebrations as are Attorney General Seamus Woulfe and junior ministers David Stanton and Michael D’Arcy.
The remainder of the Americas is not left untended. Minister for Communications Denis Naughten is attending St Patrick’s Day festivities in Toronto this week, while the junior finance minister Patrick O’Donovan is also in Canada.
Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe is thousands of miles to the south in Argentina, while Latin America also plays host to chief whip Joe McHugh (Brazil) and junior sports minister Brendan Griffin (Mexico).
People across the health service are working extraordinarily hard to make progress in what is a difficult week. I am in regular contact with HSE. It would not feel right to me as Minister to travel for St Patrick’s Day so I have made decision not to do so— Simon Harris TD (@SimonHarrisTD) March 13, 2018
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney is in Hong Kong where he will undertake a four-city tour culminating in Beijing. To mark the visit, which will encompass the substantial trade promotion element, the Chinese authorities will light the Great Wall of China.
Ireland’s EU partners are also favoured with an extensive programme of visits by ministers this week. The junior minister for housing Damien English is visiting Poland, while Finland and Denmark will play host of the junior minister for health promotion and drugs strategy, Catherine Byrne.
Minister for Health Simon Harris was due to attend events in the Netherlands and Belgium but has cancelled, while the Minister for Children Katherine Zappone will visit Rome for events, including an engagement in the Irish College there.
Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed gets the Brexit package, with a series of engagements all week in the UK, from where junior education minister John Halligan has just returned after events in Manchester and Liverpool.
The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will represent the Government at events in Australia, where his junior colleague Jim Daly also has a programme of events. Mr Daly will also visit New Zealand.