Category: Archive

Irish exodus: 25 pols making March trips to 5 continents

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

President Mary McAleese is going to Australia, Taoiseach Bertie Ahern will make his usual trip to Washington with a bowl of shamrock for President Bush, and Tanaiste Mary Harney is California bound.
The other ministers will scatter around the five continents, visiting Britain, New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., France, Norway, Cyprus, Japan, Hong Kong, China, Korea, South Africa and Brazil.
It has become a tradition for senior political figures to spend the national holiday with emigrant groups around the world to promote tourism and trade.
After centuries of emigration, an estimated 70 million people worldwide claim an Irish connection.
The taoiseach encourages colleagues to accept travel invitations from expatriate communities to promote the image of the country.
“Ministers and ministers of state will lead the celebrations in the five continents and use the opportunity to capitalize on the good will generated by the celebrations to make new contacts which will benefit Ireland, both culturally and economically,” according to a government statement.
With the uncertain political climate, it’s regarded as particularly important this year to seize any chance to promote the country as a tourism destination and underline the tax breaks available for industry in a time of economic downturn.
The taoiseach will be jetting back across the Atlantic in time to spend the big day in Dublin. Arts and Tourism Minister John O’Donoghue will also be back in time from Scotland to review the city’s festivities.
President McAleese will visit Sydney, Canberra, Brisbane and Melbourne accompanied by Education Minister Noel Dempsey.
Also heading across the Atlantic with the taoiseach will be the tanaiste (who plans to visit San Jose), chief whip Mary Hanafin (New York), Transport Minister Seamus Brennan (Boston), Foreign Minister Brian Cowen (San Francisco), and Defense Minister Michael Smith (Savannah).
Accompanying them will be junior ministers Dick Roche (Chicago), Jim McDaid (Philadelphia), and Frank Fahey (San Diego).
Three members of the government are going to Britain: O’Donoghue (Edinburgh), Attorney General Rory Brady (London) and junior minister Ivor Callely (Manchester and Birmingham).
Asia is getting four government members, including Justice Minister Michael McDowell (China), and junior ministers Sean Treacy (Hong Kong), Tom Parlon (Korea) and Liam Aylward (Japan).
Other cabinet ministers jetting off are Environment Minister Martin Cullen (Brazil), Agriculture Minister Joe Walsh (Paris), Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs Minister Eamon O Cuiv (South Africa) and Social and Family Affairs Minister Mary Coughlan (Oslo).
Other junior ministers leaving will be Tim O’Malley (Cyprus) and Tom Kitt (Wellington/Auckland).

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