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Taoiseach: 'I'm disappointed personally, but it's not the end of the world'

Micheál Martin must remain in the US for a number of days under public health advice.

Image: PA

Updated Mar 17th 2022, 8:37 PM

Political Correspondent Christina Finn reporting from the United States.  

TAOISEACH MICHEÁL MARTIN will miss a Covid commemoration event due to take place in the Garden of Remembrance in Dublin on Sunday, The Journal can confirm.

Government sources say that Martin will observe US Covid-19 guidelines issued by the Centre of Disease Control (CDC), after he tested positive for Covid-19 yesterday.

CDC guidelines advise that those who are infected with the virus should avoid travel “for a full ten days” after they test positive for Covid-19.

While no specific dates were given as to precisely when the Taoiseach will return to Ireland, his positive test yesterday means he may not return to Ireland until at least 26 March under these rules.

That would also mean Martin would miss the European Council meeting on 24-25 March. US President Joe Biden, who the Taoiseach met virtually today, is due to attend the meeting in Brussels.

The day of national remembrance is due to take place on 20 March, with ministers and Government officials all set to attend the event.

After his meeting with the US President Joe Biden today, the Taoiseach was asked by reporters if he was disappointed that the bilateral had to be held online again this year due to his Covid-19 diagnosis yesterday.

Martin began by stating: “I feel good. Of course I’m disappointed personally, but it’s not the end of the world, and we have to keep things in perspective. I think that important, particularly in the context of what’s happening across the world today.”

Thankfully there is quality of videoconferencing and the capacity to hold meetings online, he said. 

“I don’t believe the meeting was in any way impaired as a result of this. In fact it was a very warm meeting, and it went on longer perhaps than anticipated by officials on both sides. It was a good, warm, personal conversation and engagement.”

When asked how he will go about his daily job from the US for the next number of days, the Taoiseach said:

“In terms of the next while: obviously I will be here. We had our Cabinet meeting which I chaired from the embassy at the commencement of the week. Little did I think I’d have another Cabinet meeting from here next week, but that’s the way it is.

“I will continue to work and we will manage this. I will be in daily contact with my colleagues and my officials, particularly in respect of the humanitarian response to the Ukrainian crisis back home. So I will keep working. I feel good, and we’ll obviously take it day and day and step and step.”

He said that it was “very much a possibility” that he would miss the EU meeting in Brussels next week.

“I haven’t gone through the full implications of all of this yet, which you’ll appreciate. I wanted to get over today’s events first – but yes, that’s very much a possibility at this stage,” he added.

Martin is currently isolating in Blair House, a residence which is across the road from the White House.

It is tradition for the Taoiseach of the day to stay there the night before meeting with the US president on St Patrick’s Day. 

The annual St Patrick’s Day meeting between the Taoiseach and US president had to be held virtually after Martin tested positive for Covid last night. 

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He initially tested negative on an antigen test, which he took after being informed that a member of his delegation had received a positive result. However, a follow-up PCR test came back positive for the Taoiseach.

Martin had also received a negative PCR test result on Sunday before travelling to the US.

The announcement of the positive test came during the ceremony last night in Washington DC, where the Taoiseach was due to receive a leadership award.

The Irish ambassador to the US, Dan Mulhall, made the announcement at the gala event, when he had to step in and accept a leadership award on behalf of Martin.

The Taoiseach was in attendance at the dinner yesterday evening, and seated beside Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, before the result of his second Covid test came through.

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