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Taoiseach hopes 'in-person' St Patrick's Day events can return with White House visit on the cards

This year will be Micheál Martin’s last opportunity as Taoiseach to visit with the US president in Washington DC.

An online St Patrick's Day event was held with US President Joe Biden last year.
An online St Patrick's Day event was held with US President Joe Biden last year.
Image: Alamy Stock Photo

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN has said he hopes “in-person” St Patrick Day events can resume this year “if it is safe to do so”. 

Last year, due to Covid-19, the Taoiseach held virtual meetings with US President Joe Biden as well as Vice President Kamala Harris and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. 

It is understood that work has begun between Irish officials and their US counterparts behind the scenes on plans for this year’s visit to the White House in Washington DC. 

When asked in the Dáil today about expanding Ireland’s Global Ireland plan which involves doubling  Ireland’s global footprint abroad through a series of new embassies and promoting cultural programmes overseas, the Taoiseach said:

“As the House will be aware, as a result of the pandemic it was not possible to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in the traditional way last year, with most events moving online.

“We hope that it may be possible to resume some in-person events this year, depending on public health developments, which remain the most important consideration.”

u-s-president-joe-biden-participates-in-a-virtual-bilateral-meeting-with-irelands-prime-minister-micheal-martin-in-the-oval-office-at-the-white-house-in-washington-u-s-march-17-2021-credit-erin Source: Alamy Stock Photo

Last year, Biden received the traditional bowl of shamrock in the Oval office, and during the shamrock handover the US president said it is a “great tradition” that “goes all the way back to Harry Truman”. 

The US president referenced his own Irish-American heritage and reiterated his administration’s support for the Good Friday Agreement. 

The Taoiseach said today that this year will mark the 13th Tourism Ireland Global Greening, which saw a record 725 sites and landmarks in 71 countries take part in 2021.

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While it is tradition for Ministers and Ministers of State to travel to different destinations around the globe to mark St Patrick’s Day, it is expected that the missions will be scaled back somewhat this year, given the public health concerns. 

However, it is believed that the Taoiseach could take part in an extended visit to the US this year in the run up to St Patrick’s Day, but will return home in time for the pandemic commemoration event which is due to take place on Sunday 20 March. 

This will Martin’s last opportunity as Taoiseach to visit with the US president before the rotation of Leo Varadkar into the role in December 2022.

The Government has announced that a double public holiday will take place on 17 and 18 March this year. 

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