The Taoiseach has cancelled a visit to New York for St Patrick’s Day festivities to concentrate on coordinating the battle against coronavirus at home, officials have confirmed.
Mr Varadkar had been due to travel to New York tomorrow as part of his USA St Patrick’s Day round of visits. This part of the journey was also to include further canvassing at the United Nations to boost Ireland’s chances of taking a seat on the Security Council.
But officials today confirmed that Mr Varadkar is not travelling tomorrow and will instead go directly to Washington on Wednesday.
“The Taoiseach is detained by work on the campaign to manage coronavirus situation,” a source told Independent.ie.
At this point there is no expected change to other ministerial overseas trips to boost Ireland’s marketing efforts around St Patrick’s Day. These trips have already been curtailed compared with previous years and they are mainly focused on cities with Irish links in the USA.
News of Mr Varadkar’s changed travel plans came as the Cabinet subcommittee met for the first time to consider managing the potential crisis. After a full briefing on the current situation from public health experts the members will focus on other issues.
These are income supports for people obliged to stay off work due to the need to “self-isolate” to cut infection risks. Currently such people are not covered by sick pay and the Taoiseach has already signalled that he is prepared to change this.
The ministers will also get an update on the question of stopping next week’s St Patrick’s Day parades and other festivities. There is an increasingly likelihood that these will be curtailed if not entirely cancelled.
AHEAD of the first meeting of a new cabinet committee set up to tackle the coronavirus, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that no decision has been made on whether the St. Patrick's Day parade will go ahead in Dublin, but he expects a decision "very shortly."