Asked pointedly on Tuesday whether there was some chance the speech would be canceled in the aftermath of Ahern announcing his resignation amid questions over past financial dealings, knowledgeable staff said they could not say with complete assurance that the speech would be given.
“At this time, we plan to host the taoiseach for his address,” said a staff member on condition of anonymity.
Following the announcement in Dublin by Ahern, and against the backdrop of the ongoing Mahon Tribunal, nerves were jangled in some congressional offices as to the appropriateness of affording the honor to Mr. Ahern.
“The announcement took his own cabinet by surprise, so it’s understandable that we were shocked and concerned as well,” said one congressional staff member.
The office of Speaker Nancy Pelosi reached out to members of the Congress most familiar with Mr. Ahern in the days following his announcement.
The Speaker’s office sought input on Ahern’s status on his domestic travails and reassurance that there would not be any major revelation unearthed by investigators back in Dublin that would make it embarrassing for the U.S. Congress to host him as a speaker before his formal retirement as taoiseach on May 6.
Key members of the House concerned with Irish affairs said they continue to work under the assumption that the taoiseach will give his speech, scheduled for Wednesday, April 30.