Friday 23 February 2018

FG leader's St Patrick's Day trip to US cut short

Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Barack Obama during the US president’s 2011 visit to Ireland. Photo: Ray Cullen
Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Barack Obama during the US president’s 2011 visit to Ireland. Photo: Ray Cullen

Cormac McQuinn and Philip Ryan

Taoiseach Enda Kenny's trip to Washington for the St Patrick's Day festivities is being cut short ahead of potential talks on forming the next government.

He will still meet President Barack Obama in the White House, but will leave the US capital a day early to return to Ireland.

Meanwhile, details have been released of the destinations for the trips by other Cabinet members in what has been described as a "significantly reduced" St Patrick's Day programme amid the uncertainty of the election result. Last year, Mr Kenny, Tánaiste Joan Burton and 27 ministers took part in the St Patrick's Day programme abroad. This year 10 will travel.

Ms Burton will go to Rome and Milan to promote tourism. Foreign Affairs Minister Charles Flanagan will travel to New York and Washington DC, where he will take over from Mr Kenny when he leaves.

Mr Kenny will meet Mr Obama on Tuesday and will have breakfast with vice-president Joe Biden on Wednesday.

He was due to attend an economic lunch hosted by the Irish Embassy and a dinner organised by the American Ireland Fund.

Mr Flanagan will replace Mr Kenny at these events.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald will travel to London, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton will go to Paris, and Transport Minister Paschal Donohoe is going to Madrid. Arts Minister Heather Humphreys will visit Boston, while government chief whip Paul Kehoe goes to Philadelphia, Albany, Trenton and Savannah.

Environment Minister Alan Kelly will travel to California.

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin will go to India, where he will promote Irish education and pharmaceutical industries.

Ministers who lost their seats, including James Reilly and Alex White, will not travel.

Irish Independent

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