Belfast Telegraph

St Patrick's Day mission revealed

Twenty-seven Cabinet ministers and junior ministers will travel to 35 cities in 23 countries around the world to promote Ireland on St Patrick's Day.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny will take the plum trip to the US with visits to New York, Washington and Boston as expected, while Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore will travel to France, where food businesses will top the agenda.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan is travelling to Canada with the economy and the state of the banks likely to dominate conversations there.

The Government said the Promote Ireland programme will put Russia back on the agenda for the first time since 2010 with junior minister Alex White taking the trip.

The emerging markets of Mexico and Vietnam are being targeted for the first time with Justice Minister Alan Shatter and junior minister Kathleen Lynch travelling to the respective countries.

The Tanaiste announced the markings for the cabinet members and junior ranks and said they would use March 17 to send a message that Ireland is a stable, vibrant and innovative country to do business with.

"Our exit from the bailout and return to economic stability will form an important part of the international narrative around the St. Patrick's Day period this year," he said.

"As our number-one export market and the source of 80% of all foreign direct investment to Ireland, North America features heavily in the programme again this year with ministers taking in 11 US and three Canadian cities over the St Patrick's Day period."

Brendan Howlin, Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, will be going to China, with Jobs Minister Richard Bruton heading to Italy, where his engagements in Rome and Milan will focus on technology, engineering, investment, food and tourism.

Joan Burton, Minister for Social Protection, will be in New York, but will not attend the traditional parade over organisers' refusal to allow gay rights participants.

Also in the US, Health Minister James Reilly will go to Boston and Cleveland; Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport will go to Atlanta and Savannah; the Attorney General Maire Whelan will be in Washington DC; and junior ministers Dinny McGinley and Sean Sherlock will travel to Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, and Chicago and Kansas City, respectively.

Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for the Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, will be in San Francisco; Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources Pat Rabbitte will be in London and Birmingham; Environment Minister Phil Hogan will be in the United Arab Emirates; and Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney will go to New Zealand and Eastern Australia.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald will visit Japan and Korea.

Other trips will see junior ministers go to Scotland, Lebanon, S pain, N etherlands, Germany, Romania, Western Australia, Norway, and Belgium and Luxembourg.

The Government said ministers are expected to take part in more than 80 high-level political meetings, including bilateral meetings with US President Barack Obama and British PM David Cameron.

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