Late start to trade mission
TANAISTE Mary Coughlan's trip to US was supposed to be a five-day trade mission packed with meetings with senior businessmen and American college contacts.
Ms Coughlan is due to travel today, having missed at 36 hours of the mission.
The trip was organised by Enterprise Ireland, with input also coming from the IDA, and it had taken between six and eight months to organise.
The aim is to sell Ireland as a study destination for wealthy college students, and representatives from 14 of the country's top universities, colleges and institutes of technology also travelled.
Sources said it could not be rescheduled since it was due to coincide with a major guidance counsellors' conference.
They also rejected the idea that Ms Coughlan could have departed after Dail business on Wednesday, stayed the weekend and met contacts next week.
"We can't ask the college people who travelled over from Ireland to stay away from home for the weekend, that's why it was decided to fit it all into the one week," the source said. "To do that would have also cost money and the people we want to talk to are available on weekdays.
"We feel sorry for the people over there who busted their ass trying to get this arranged."
Yesterday, Ms Coughlan was supposed to be in Boston, where she was to attend an Enterprise Ireland breakfast briefing with the trade mission participants, as well as deal with a host of other engagements.