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Taoiseach heading to Washington DC for annual St Patrick's Day meeting with Donald Trump

Leo Varadkar will also travel to Chicago this year.

US President Donald Trump as he meets Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House last year.
US President Donald Trump as he meets Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House last year.
Image: Niall Carson

TAOISEACH LEO VARADKAR is to travel to the United States this week to celebrate St Patrick’s Day in Washington DC and Chicago.

Yesterday, the Taoiseach was forced to delay his travel plans after moves were afoot with Brexit. However, it is understood that his plans had always been flexible and he will be heading to the States today.

As is tradition, Varadkar will meet with US President Donald Trump, with their meeting due to be held in the White House Oval Office on Thursday. 

On that day, the Taoiseach will first be hosted for breakfast by Vice President Mike Pence.

Controversy surrounded this meeting last year, after the media were shut out from the meeting, which is usually open to the press. 

It is not yet clear what the arrangements will be this year, or whether Varadkar’s partner Matt Barrett will attend. Last year, Pence told the Taoiseach that both he and Barrett, would be welcome in Pence’s home if he decides to attend this year. 

After breakfast, Varadkar will attend the annual Speaker’s Lunch on Capitol Hill, and meet with senior members of Congress.

The bowl of shamrock 

That evening, the Taoiseach will join Trump and his wife Melania, for the traditional Shamrock Ceremony at the White House, in advance of attending the Ambassador’s St Patrick’s Day Reception.

In his meetings he will also emphasise the strength of Irish-US relations, and will recall the important role of the US in supporting peace and the Good Friday Agreement, and outline Ireland’s position on Brexit.

He will also press the case for resolving the situation facing the undocumented Irish in America.

The Taoiseach has said this year’s visit is an opportunity to deepen Ireland’s strong bilateral relations with the US, and to build even stronger transatlantic relations between the US and the EU.

During his stay in Washington, Varadkar will also focus on economic links, with a series of meetings to promote trade and investment between the US and Ireland.

The Taoiseach will also meet representatives of Irish companies successfully expanding their operations in the US.

Irish businesses

He will also meet the US Chamber of Commerce and IDA client companies, highlighting Ireland’s strengths as a location for international business and investment.

Varadkar will also attend the annual Ireland Funds Gala Dinner, and visit the exhibition ‘Blazing a Trail: Irish Women in America’.

After four days in Washington DC, the Taoiseach will travel to Chicago. He is due to meet with a number of emigrant support groups that receive Irish Government funding, and will attend a St Patrick’s Day dinner hosted by the Irish Fellowship Club of Chicago.

On Saturday, the Taoiseach will march in the Chicago St Patrick’s Day Parade, before concluding his programme by marking the launch of Tourism Ireland’s new book, ‘Ireland’s Greening of the World’, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Global Greening Initiative.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney, who is staying in Europe due to the unpredictability of Brexit, said yesterday that the traditional pilgrimage by ministers abroad for St Patrick’s Day is somewhat different this year due to Brexit. 

He said St Patrick’s Day is a really important time of year for the Irish government to get their message across abroad, however, he said this year they have ensured that “key decision-makers” are where they need to be in order to deal with any Brexit-related decision or fallout. 

TheJournal.ie’s Political Correspondent Christina Finn will be bringing you all the latest updates from Leo Varadkar’s visit to Washington DC this week, including his meeting with US President Donald Trump on Thursday.

Stay up-to-date by following @christinafinn8@TJ_Politics  and TheJournal.ie’s Facebook page

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