Sunday 21 January 2018

Parties make peace after St Patrick's Day row in New York

Patrick's Day flare-up in Kenny's hotel sparked by 'logistical issue'

Senior civil servant Martin Fraser
Senior civil servant Martin Fraser

FIONNAN SHEAHAN Group Political Editor

THE celebrated St Patrick's Day flare-up in New York between the country's top civil servant and the Irish Ambassador was Much Ado About Nothing.

There was something of Shakespeare's comedy classic about the diplomatic dust-up between Department of the Taoiseach secretary general Martin Fraser and Ireland's Ambassador to the United States, Anne Anderson.

Despite making headlines last week and overshadowing the Taoiseach's annual trip to the US for St Patrick's Day, the Sunday Independent has learnt that the diplomatic incident in the foyer of Fitzpatrick's Hotel in Manhattan was sparked by a disagreement over logistical arrangements that then boiled over into a blazing row.

Mr Fraser and Ms Anderson are understood to have made up after the spat and are hugely embarrassed by the affair.

Colleagues in the Department of Foreign Affairs have also sprung to the defence of Ms Anderson, following a series of unflattering depictions of her as being in the wrong.

And there have been flat denials of speculation that the tensions were over any particular comments made by either party. The angry scene took place when Mr Fraser called aside Ms Anderson in the hotel and a heated exchange between the two ensued, in which the ambassador told the official: "I am not a liar."


The row occurred shortly after midnight last Monday morning, and broke out after Taoiseach Enda Kenny and members of his delegation returned to the hotel after dining at famous New York steakhouse, Smith & Wollensky.

Mr Kenny had just gone up to his room in the hotel when Mr Fraser approached Ms Anderson and the row ensued.

The Taoiseach played down the public row but the incident has been widely discussed among senior mandarins in Merrion Street and Iveagh House during the week.

"There has been a lot of talk about it. It was nothing to do with a row or argument at the restaurant.

"Nor was there any inappropriate comment made which caused offence. It was a misunderstanding about a logistical element of the programme in New York. It wasn't a policy issue. It was absolutely not anything that was said," a source said.

Prior to the Taoiseach's entourage departing for Ireland, Mr Fraser and Ms Anderson quite publicly exchanged pleasantries in front of other officials.

"The two have long since kissed and made up, so to speak. There was a clear mutual embarrassment but they ended on the best of terms and laughed it off in an embarrassed kind of way," a source said.

The exact issue which sparked the argument is still not clear.

Sunday Independent

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