Kenny's White House visit pushed back by three days
TAOISEACH Enda Kenny's annual meeting with US President Barack Obama will take place three days after St Patrick's Day.
St Patrick's Day falls on a Saturday this year but there are no weekend engagements in the White House.
Mr Kenny will also visit Notre Dame University -- the home of the 'Fighting Irish' sports teams -- during his five days in the US to help promote an American football game taking place in Dublin later this year. A total of 17 senior and junior ministers will be abroad for St Patrick's Day this year, taking in locations including Australia, China, and various parts of Europe.
Mr Kenny has asked ministers to focus on business, trade, tourism, and investment during their travels and told them to keep costs to a minimum.
The Taoiseach will travel to Chicago first, staying in the city on March 16 and St Patrick's Day itself. He will meet with Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a former aide to President Obama, and take part in the St Patrick's Day parade. His Notre Dame visit also takes place on St Patrick's Day.
Notre Dame play Navy in the Aviva Stadium on September 1, and it is hoped thousands will travel to Dublin for the game. Mr Kenny will also address students and faculty members at the university in South Bend, Indiana.
The Taoiseach will then travel to New York to visit the stock exchange, meet business leaders and leading scientists and attend the American Ireland Fund gala dinner.
The White House meeting with Mr Obama will not take place until Tuesday, March 20.
Mr Kenny will also attend a breakfast hosted in Vice President Joe Biden's house that day, as well as a St Patrick's Day lunch on Capitol Hill hosted by John Boehner, the speaker of the House of Representatives, before returning to the White House for an evening reception.
The Government says its St Patrick's Day message is: "Now is the time to invest in Ireland's recovery."
And Mr Kenny said ministers "will use the unique global opportunity of St Patrick's Day to bring that message to all our key global markets and to Ireland's many friends around the world."
"The clear message from the 'Invest in Ireland' event hosted by President Bill Clinton in New York recently was that investors have faith in Ireland and in our capacity to bring about economic recovery," Mr Kenny added. "That message was echoed by the Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping during his recent visit."
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, who travels to Canada, said St Patrick's Day is a "unique opportunity to promote Ireland abroad."