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Taoiseach's visit to the White House still set to go ahead

Leo Varadkar will meet President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Image: PA

Updated Mar 10th 2020, 3:00 PM

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR’S visit to the White House on Thursday is still set to go ahead. 

Varadkar was due to travel to New York on Tuesday to attend a meeting at the United Nations headquarters, but his plans to travel were cancelled last minute yesterday. 

A spokesperson said the change of plans was to allow the Taoiseach to stay in Ireland to deal with the “evolving situation”.

While there was doubt about whether the Taoiseach’s visit to Washington DC would proceed, a government spokesperson said “as of now there are no change of plans”.

The Taoiseach is now due in to commence his US St Patrick’s Day trip in Washington DC tomorrow.

He will attend the traditional Irish Funds Gala as well as the House Speaker’s luncheon on Capitol Hill. 

Yesterday, it was confirmed that US President Donald Trump will not be attending the lunch. The event is being hosted by the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Trump blamed his non-attendance at the lunch on Pelosi, pointing to the impeachment inquiry launched by the Democrat-led House last year.

Earlier today, it was confirmed that Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have cancelled a St Patrick’s Day trip to Washington over Covid-19.

The DUP leader said this morning that they had decided “not to travel to Washington for the St Patrick’s Day receptions”.

“Whilst it is an enormous opportunity to showcase Northern Ireland in DC, our priority is dealing with the spread of coronavirus,” she said.

Foster said that she and O’Neill would attend a Cobra meeting tomorrow.

A Cobra meeting is when members of the British government, and possibly a team of experts, meet to discuss the response of UK authorities to a given issue or threat (“COBR” stands for “Cabinet Office Briefing Room”).

Sinn Féin’s John Finucane and David Cullinane were also due to travel to New York this week, however, they have also cancelled their trip.

Mary Lou McDonald cancelled her trip to the Washington DC last week.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that his trip to the US for St Patrick’s Day had been cut to two days as they grapple with growing fears. Business Minister Heather Humphreys has is understood to have cancelled her St Patrick’s trip to the US west coast.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha

TheJournal.ie’s Political Correspondent Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Leo Varadkar’s visit to Washington DC this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Stay up-to-date by following @christinafinn8@TJ_Politics  and TheJournal.ie’s Facebook page

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