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Dublin: 13 °C Thursday 2 July, 2020
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Ministers get jet set for St Patrick's Day globetrotting

Enda Kenny and Eamon Gilmore hit stateside, while other ministers travel to London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, India and Australia.

Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen presents president Barack Obama with the traditional bowl of shamrock last St Patrick's Day.
Former Taoiseach Brian Cowen presents president Barack Obama with the traditional bowl of shamrock last St Patrick's Day.
Image: Alex Brandon/AP

NINE MEMBERS of the cabinet are setting off for worldwide engagements to mark St Patrick’s Day, in a travel schedule significant pared down from that observed by previous governments.

Six of the 15 members of Cabinet will stay at home for the festivities this year, while none of the 15 ministers of state will be travelling either – the first time in a number of years that the delegation being sent abroad is so small.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore were both due to arrive at the US Air Force base at Andrews, just a few miles south-east of Washington DC, this morning.

It will drop the Taoiseach there ahead of two days of engagements, before travelling onward to New York where Eamon Gilmore will mark the national holiday.

Kenny’s events will see him meet members of the Global Irish Network over breakfast today, and later a meeting with his Economic Advisory Board.

He will later address a Business Leaders Lunch in Washington, where a government spokesman said he would try to emphasise his new government’s economic recovery plan.

Later today he will meet with a number of Irish-American state governors, and will meet this evening with the US treasury secretary Tim Geithner. Tomorrow, Kenny and his wife Fionnuala begin their day at breakfast with US vice-president Joe Biden before calling to Capitol Hill and then onto the White House for an afternoon reception with president Barack Obama.

Other foreign trips being taken by ministers will see both the new Arts Minister Jimmy Deenihan and the social protection minister Joan Burton travel to London, while agriculture minister Simon Coveney visits Paris and the enterprise minister Richard Bruton visits Germany.

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Education minister Ruairí Quinn visits Rome, while further afield, children’s minister Frances Fitzgerald travels to Australia – including a brief visit to Christchurch in New Zealand – and tourism minister Leo Varadkar, who is himself of Indian parentage, travels to India.

The nine travellers compares to 22 last year – when eleven full members of cabinet, and eleven ministers of state, travelled overseas for the global festivities.

Slideshow: Ministers going abroad for St Patrick’s Day >

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Gavan Reilly

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