Belfast Telegraph

Cabinet ministers in Brussels visit

The Government will step up the groundwork for Ireland's European Union (EU) presidency with a mass contingent of ministers travelling to Brussels.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore and nine ministers will jet off for a day of meetings with European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso.

Government ministers will also meet with European Commissioners relevant to their departments to discuss their priorities for Ireland's term during the first six months of 2013.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan will be among the 11 Cabinet members to take the day-long trip to Brussels on Wednesday.

A spokesman for the minister insisted only EU presidential matters will be considered - as opposed to Mr Noonan's usual finance, debt and banking-related business in the Belgian capital.

"Minister Noonan will be travelling to Brussels with his Cabinet colleagues to meet European Commissioners and President Barroso as part of our area of the upcoming presidency in January," said a spokesman.

"This will give us the opportunity to discuss our priorities for the upcoming presidency."

Mr Kenny, Mr Gilmore and Mr Noonan will be joined by Public Expenditure Minister Brendan Howlin, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton, Social Protection Minister Joan Burton, Communications Minister Pat Rabbitte, Environment Minister Phil Hogan, Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, Transport Minister Leo Varadkar and Minister of State for European Affairs Lucinda Creighton.

The only Government departments to stay behind are arts, children, defence and justice, education and health.

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