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Monday 5 June 2023 Dublin: 12°C
# St Patrick's Day
Stormont leaders won't visit Washington for St Patrick’s Day - but the Taoiseach still intends to go
The Executive Office has confirmed that the annual visit would not proceed this year, amid ongoing public health concerns.

THE FIRST MINISTER and Deputy First Minister will not travel to Washington for St Patrick’s Day this year due to the pandemic, as Taoiseach Micheal Martin has signalled his intention to proceed with the visit.

The Stormont Executive Office confirmed yesterday that the annual visit would not proceed this year, amid ongoing public health concerns.

A spokesperson said: “Due to the ongoing public health emergency, Executive Office Ministers will not be travelling this year to the United States over the St Patrick’s Day period.”

Arlene Foster and Michelle O’Neill also cancelled last year’s visit, at the outset of the pandemic.

Despite criticism in some quarters, Government ministers have defended the Taoiseach’s decision, at this point, to proceed with the visit.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe told Today FM’s The Last Word yesterday: “The economic and political benefits of the ongoing engagement that we have had with the US is so important to our country.

“If I was to look at what the definition of essential travels are – one of them would be meeting the US President for the betterment of our country.
“If that event is happening the Taoiseach, I believe, should be at it”.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said recently he believes the traditional St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House by the Taoiseach will go ahead this year.

Coveney said the Government would have to figure out a way of visiting the US safely, because of the global pandemic.

Last year’s visit by then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to former president Donald Trump was cut short amid the first coronavirus outbreak in Ireland.

With reporting from Gráinne Ní Aodha.

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