Friday 22 September 2017

President Higgins says it's 'a matter for Government' if junior minister will travel in light of no-confidence vote

Official Visit to Peru , the Republic of Columbia and the Republic of Cuba by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins 7th-18th February. (Pic: Maxwell's)
Official Visit to Peru , the Republic of Columbia and the Republic of Cuba by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins 7th-18th February. (Pic: Maxwell's)
Official Visit to Peru , the Republic of Columbia and the Republic of Cuba by President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins 7th-18th February. (Pic: Maxwell's)

Ryan Nugent

President Michael D Higgins has said "it is a matter for the Government" if Junior Minister David Stanton travels as planned to Cuba with him for the State visit on Wednesday.

Minister of State for Equality, Immigration and Integration, Mr Stanton was due to meet the President and his delegation in Cuba on Wednesday.

However, it is unclear if he will now travel given the vote of no confidence against the Government.

It is understood that it is highly irregular for an Irish President to go on a State visit without being accompanied by a Government Minister.

Social Protection Minister, Leo Varadkar - who travelled to Peru and Colombia with the President - left for Ireland a day earlier than planned in order to return for today's vote.

Mr Varadkar was absent for the President's meeting with with civil societies in relation to the Colombian Peace Agreement last night, and thus will not be with Mr Higgins to meet Colombian President, Juan Manuel Santos today.

However, the trips to both Peru and Colombia are viewed as official visits as opposed to State visits.

The President will leave Colombia tomorrow morning for a four day visit to Cuba.

Mr Higgins avoided speaking about whether or not Mr Stanton had rearranged his trip, but did say that issues that come up are a matter for the Government.

"That's a matter for the Government to decide who accompanies the president on his work abroad," Mr Higgins said.

"Usually what happens is that I get approval from the cabinet at a cabinet meeting for every trip I make and they do it very well in advance and then they have their own circumstances that they take into account about who the accompanying Minister should be, but I'm very happy with whatever the Government decides," he added.

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