Tuesday 24 October 2017

Varadkar rejects St Patrick's Day trip to Australia

The Social Protection Minister was initially assigned to the Indonesian capital Jakarta and Perth in western Austrian but will now be travelling to Paris. Photo: Tom Burke
The Social Protection Minister was initially assigned to the Indonesian capital Jakarta and Perth in western Austrian but will now be travelling to Paris. Photo: Tom Burke
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

Leo Varadkar objected to being sent to Australia for St Patrick's Day, arguing for a European location instead.

The Social Protection Minister was initially assigned to the Indonesian capital Jakarta and Perth in western Austrian but will now be travelling to Paris, the Irish Independent can reveal.

It is understood the minister was concerned about being sent so far away when Fine Gael is on the verge of a leadership contest.

He already cut short an official visit to Colombia with President Michael D Higgins in recent weeks.

The majority of senior ministers have been allocated EU capitals as part of the Government's Brexit strategy but a number of sources confirmed that Mr Varadkar was given "the other side of the world".

His main rival to replace Enda Kenny, Simon Coveney, is to travel to Canada for the celebrations.

Asked about Mr Varadkar's request to change destination, a spokesperson said: "The minister thought it would be better to visit a European capital due to Brexit. He has made official visits to London, Brussels, Bratislava, Strasbourg and Vienna in the past year and has plans to visit Valletta and Brussels again in the next few weeks."

The minister's eagerness to get a key European capital will be interpreted as part of his leadership bid, given that the Taoiseach is also the 'Brexit Minister'.

Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald, who will spend St Patrick's week in San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego, is to travel the farthest of the potential leadership candidates.

Education Minister Richard Bruton will go to the UK, while Health Minister Simon Harris has asked to be allowed stay at home.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny is to spend March 15 and 16 in Washington where he will meet President Donald Trump before moving to New York for two days.

He is understood to be considering adding a number of other cities to his itinerary.

Children's Minister Katherine Zappone will return to her home city of Seattle.

In total, the Taoiseach, Tánaiste and 27 ministers and ministers of state will travel to over 50 cities.

Irish Independent

Also in this section