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'I need to speak to you about Covid-19': What happened behind the scenes in Washington before Taoiseach's coronavirus bombshell

Taoiseach was escorted from gala Ireland Funds dinner for emergency briefing

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Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Blair House, Washington DC, during a press conference on the status of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Blair House, Washington DC, during a press conference on the status of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

PA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar at Blair House, Washington DC, during a press conference on the status of coronavirus in the Republic of Ireland. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

THE grave look on the faces of Irish officials as they arrived outside Blair House moments before the Taoiseach said it all.

"Pay attention," said one, as he pointed to the podium where Leo Varadkar arrived minutes later to deliver a short statement that will be centre-stage when RTÉ is compiling 'Reeling in the Years 2020'.

"I need to speak to you about the coronavirus and Covid-19," the Taoiseach began, underlining the urgency and import of the words that would follow.