Cork TDs divided on whether Taoiseach should visit White House for St Patrick's Day

Cork TDs divided on whether Taoiseach should visit White House for St Patrick's Day

The Taoiseach Micheál Martin in his office at Government Buildings. Photograph Moya Nolan

Cork TDs are divided as to whether Taoiseach Micheál Martin should make the annual trip to Washington to meet the new President of the United States of America Joe Biden at the White House on St Patrick's Day. 

If the Taoiseach makes the trip, he would be the first international leader to visit the White House since Mr Biden was sworn in as the 46th president.

A final decision on whether Mr Martin intends to travel to Washington has yet to be made with a Government spokesperson telling The Echo: “The relationship between Ireland and the United States of America is an important and historic one.

“No decision has yet been taken on any trips. Arrangements for marking the traditional St. Patrick’s Day celebrations are not finalised and any arrangements will take account of COVID-19 related measures both here and in the US.” 

 Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the Taoiseach can make the trip in a "safe way".

“My personal view is that the Taoiseach should of course go to Washington and I think that can be managed in a way that is safe,” Mr Coveney said.

Cork East TD Seán Sherlock echoed Mr Coveney’s sentiments. 

“The Taoiseach should travel and he should use the opportunity to reset the relationship with the US to press for Irish Emigrants in the US who have little or no status.” 

Sean Sherlock TD is in favour of the Taoiseach travelling to the US for the St Patrick's Day celebrations. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins
Sean Sherlock TD is in favour of the Taoiseach travelling to the US for the St Patrick's Day celebrations. Photo:Gareth Chaney/Collins

Mr Sherlock wants the Taoiseach to reinforce the message that Ireland remains a key post for pharmaceutical exports. 

“He should also endeavour to meet as many pharmaceutical company CEOs as possible to press home Ireland’s status as a key staging post for pharmaceutical exports to the EU and the Middle East,” he added.

However, Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Thomas Gould said he doesn’t think it would be appropriate for the Taoiseach to make the transatlantic trip this year. 

“It always a great honour for An Taoiseach to visit the United States and meet with the President to mark St Patrick’s Day. The visit is extremely important to the special relationship and the deep friendship our countries share. It is also significant for the Irish diaspora in America.

“However, given the severity of the Covid-19 crisis and the huge asks being made of people to safeguard public health, I don’t believe it would be appropriate for An Taoiseach to make the trip on this occasion. 

"Every other way of the Taoiseach and US President connecting over the course of the St Patrick celebrations should now be explored. 

"This should include online platforms. It is incredibly important that the Taoiseach takes what is a unique opportunity to engage with President Biden on the major issues and challenges facing both of our countries,” he added.

Deputy Mick Barry, TD for Cork North Central said it would be a "mistake" if the Taoiseach makes the trip. 

“I think the cancellation of the trip and holding the event online would send out a positive message about fighting the virus and the importance of restricting travel. It would be a mistake if it goes ahead in my opinion.”

More in this section

Sponsored Content