Ministers' St Patrick's day visits remain up in the air
Published 08/03/2011 | 05:00
NO decision has been made yet on whether to send our new government ministers abroad on St Patrick's Day trips, writes Edel Kennedy.
A number of ministers are due to fly out to far-flung destinations in one week's time, but no bookings can be made until the new cabinet is named.
Officials within the Department of Foreign Affairs have received suggested itineraries from Irish embassies worldwide.
However, they must wait for the new Taoiseach and cabinet to decide who will travel abroad to represent Ireland and who will stay behind.
A formal decision is likely be made today after the new ministerial appointments are announced in order to allow flights and hotels to be booked.
Trips to Washington and London are considered a "dead cert", but visits to other destinations are deemed up in the air.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Agriculture said priority was given to countries that had a large Irish community.
Last year Brian Cowen's trip to the White House as Taoiseach cost €180,000, while other high-fliers such as former Health Minister Mary Harney and former Enterprise Minister Batt O'Keeffe spent €34,000 and €30,000 on trips to New Zealand, and Japan and Korea, respectively.
However, Minister of State Martin Mansergh -- who travelled in place of Finance Minister Brian Lenihan -- spent just €4,192 for a four-day trip to the Netherlands and Belgium.