Irish ministers celebrate St Patrick on cheap
The Republic’s ministers will still travel to the four corners of the globe to celebrate St Patrick's Day but it may not be in the style they've become accustomed to after Taoiseach Brian Cowen imposed a ban on VIP perks.
He ordered his Cabinet to keep costs such as flights and car hire to a minimum and concentrate on securing jobs for the economy during visits to 23 countries for the day of celebration.
Ministers will visit nations with strong Irish links, such as the US, Britain, Canada and Australia, but will also travel to important trading partners such as China, Russia, India and France.
Mr Cowen will meet US President Barack Obama in the White House on St Patrick's Day and present him with the traditional bowl of shamrock.
He and Foreign Minister Micheal Martin will also travel to Chicago and California.
But there will be a strong focus on keeping costs down with his office saying that first-class flights, limousines, hotel suites and VIP airport lounges would be banned unless there was a “compelling reason” to book them.