Taoiseach Micheál Martin has confirmed that he will go to Washington DC for St Patrick’s Day if he receives an invite to the White House from US President Joe Biden.
Mr Martin said he has not yet received an official invite but admitted there was “ongoing engagement” between US and Irish officials on the matter.
The Taoiseach said “he would expect” to require a vaccine before he goes if he does make the trip, and highlighted the importance of the relationship between Ireland and the United States.
“In some shape or form we are going to honour it, as we always do on St Patrick’s Day. The economic relationship is key. There are a whole range of issues in terms of the undocumented Irish in the United States. We’d also like, with the new administration, to develop new areas of cooperation in terms of helping developing countries,” Mr Martin told RTÉ’s Morning Ireland.
The Taoiseach said he was “bemused” at the debate that has arisen around whether he will travel to meet President Biden or not and said he was never reluctant to say whether he would go or not.
“If I’m invited I will go to the United States. It would have to be worked out by both administrations and I’m conscious we're living in Covid times,” Mr Martin said.
There has been much discussion on whether the Taoiseach should make the journey this year due to the global pandemic, with opposition figures such as Sinn Féin’s Louise O’Reilly calling for the Taoiseach to show “leadership” and not travel as Irish people are restricted to within 5km of their home.
Mr Martin said he was “relaxed” about the situation and said he was “confident that we can develop a very strong relationship with the United States”.
“St Patrick’s Day represents a great opportunity for Ireland and always has but it’s important the administrations work out the optimal way of marking the US-Irish relationship this St Patrick’s Day,” the Taoiseach said.