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The Taoiseach said getting vaccinated before travelling to the White House would be "the wise thing to do".
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White House declines to say if there is a St Patrick's Day invite for the Taoiseach

The Taoiseach has said he would go if an in-person meeting was planned.

LAST UPDATE | 11 Feb 2021

THE WHITE HOUSE has said it has held ‘limited’ public events during the Presidency of Joe Biden and has declined to say whether there is an invite for the Taoiseach to attend this St Patrick’s Day.

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said this evening that she has a “special place in my heart for the Irish” but she could not confirm whether an event would take place. 

Psaki was speaking in response to a question from a US reporter asked on behalf of RTÉ Washington correspondent Brian O’Donovan.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin had said earlier today that he was “amused” by the speculation around any potential trip and that if he was invited he would go. 

At a briefing in the White House, the reporter asked whether the White House planned to issue such an invitation to Martin or whether the event will be cancelled. 

Psaki responded: 

Well we certainly have limited, as you can all see and know, public events. There has not been public events here. I’m happy to check with our team on that, if there’s any change as it relates to the traditional event that happens in March.

There has been much debate about whether Martin should travel to the US this March, if invited, with Sinn Féin stating that he should not go given the Covid-19 pandemic.

If invited, Martin said he expects he would need to be vaccinated before travelling to Washington DC.

The Taoiseach said the invite had not been extended as of yet, but said either way, the day would be marked in “some shape or form”.

He said he is “relaxed” about the day, stating that it is “great opportunity and always has been for Ireland”.

He said it is important that both administrations work out what the optimal way is to mark the day this year.

Officials are currently working out what the “best way” is to mark the day, he said.

Martin said Biden is also keen to strengthen the relationship between Ireland and the US, adding that Ireland has a unique opportunity each year to meet with the US president.

In an interview with TheJournal.ie last year, Martin said the St Patrick’s Day celebration in the White House is “a significant one for Ireland” and is one that should be maintained.

In 2020, then-Taoiseach Leo Varadkar had to cut short his St Patrick’s Day trip to the US due to the evolving coronavirus situation back home. 

Varadkar gave a national address about the nationwide lockdown in Ireland from opposite the White House on 12 March

- With reporting by Rónán Duffy

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