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Kenny: No junkets for lame-duck ministers

Bertie Ahern was helped greatly by his address to the Houses of Parliament in Westminster

THE Government refused to say last night if it plans to send ministers across the world on St Patrick's Day in the dying days of the Coalition.

Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny claimed yesterday foreign leaders won't want Irish government ministers arriving on visits after or during a general election campaign,

Mr Kenny said sending ministers abroad in the dying days of the Government would be considered a "cynical exercise" by the voters.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen is expected to travel to the White House to meet US president Barack Obama for the annual shamrock presentation ceremony, while various ministers will make the traditional trips to other parts of world.

The 2011 General Election is now expected to take place in March, but it is not clear if it will happen before or after St Patrick's Day.

Even if the election took place in early March, Mr Cowen would still be Taoiseach by the 17th of the month as a new government would not be in place by then.

Former Taoiseach Bertie Ahern was helped greatly in the 2007 general election by his address to the Houses of Parliament at Westminster in the middle of the campaign.

Mr Kenny declined to say what foreign leaders would not be happy to welcome lame-duck ministers on their doorstep.


And although he was careful not to be critical of the Taoiseach's annual trip to Washington, Mr Kenny claimed some international figures would not want to meet members of a government heading out of office.

"I think that the electorate here would see that as the most cynical exercise, the most cynical swansong that you could ever imagine," he said.

"And it might well have repercussions for many of those ministers internationally, in that persons they might wish to see might not want to see them.

"I don't speak for the US government, obviously. I'm talking about the fact you have 14 to 20 ministers travelling to different countries, meeting different prime ministers and different political leaders," he said.

"Some of them might say: 'You're not going to be in government in a week's time so why should I meet you'," he added.

Irish Independent