Taoiseach Still Intends To Go To The US For St Patrick’s Day Despite Criticism

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Stormont Leaders will not be visiting Washington for St Patrick’s Day. A spokesperson for the Executive Office confirmed yesterday that the annual visit will not proceed this year amid ongoing public health concerns, although the Taoiseach will be travelling.

The First Minister and Deputy First Minister will not be travelling this year due to the pandemic. However, Taoiseach Micheál Martin has signalled his intention to proceed with the visit.

Government ministers have leaped to defend the Taoiseach’s decision to continue with the visit, despite criticism in some quarters. They feel Mr Martin can continue to proceed in meeting up with his American counterparts.

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Yesterday, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe was on the airwaves speaking of the “economic and political benefits of the ongoing engagement”. He believes what 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,” said Donohoe. “If that event is happening, the Taoiseach, I believe, should be at it”.

Simon Coveney, Foreign Affairs Minister has said recently that he believes the Taoiseach’s traditional St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House will go ahead this year. However, with the pandemic, he believes the Government will need to figure out how they can visit the US safely.

Last year’s visit by then Taoiseach Leo Varadkar to former president Donald Trump was cut short amid the first coronavirus outbreak in Ireland. First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill also cancelled last year’s trip to the US at the dawn of the coronavirus pandemic.

In other news, the Taoiseach recently warned there is “no guarantee that lockdown restrictions would be eased in March. While numbers are decreasing in hospitals and ICUs, our health system is still under severe pressure and will remain under pressure for another month.