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08.59 11 Mar 2018


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The Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has begun his St Patrick's Day visit to the United States.

The first stop in his four-city tour is Austin, Texas - where he will speak at the South by Southwest festival and meet Texas Governor Greg Abbott.

He will also meet representatives of the Irish community there.

On Monday, he will travel to the Choctaw Nation in Oklahoma to commemorate relief the tribe gave to Ireland during the Great Famine.

On Tuesday, Mr Varadkar travels to Washington DC where he will deliver a foreign policy address to the Brookings Institution.

That evening, the Taoiseach and Senator George Mitchell will be keynote speakers at a Congressional event - marking the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.

US-Irish trade

Trade promotion is the focus of the programme on Wednesday.

Mr Varadkar will meet senior representatives of Irish companies in the US market, and hold separate discussions with members of the US Chamber of Commerce.

He will also address the annual American Ireland Fund Gala Dinner.

Meeting with Donald Trump

On Thursday, the Taoiseach's programme includes a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House, and engagements on Capitol Hill.

This includes the annual lunch hosted by the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan.

Mr Varadkar will use these opportunities to emphasise the strength of Irish-US relations, and to highlight the case of the undocumented Irish.

That afternoon, the traditional shamrock ceremony will take place as part of the White House St Patrick’s Day reception.

The Taoiseach will then be guest of honour at a breakfast hosted by US Vice President Mike Pence on March 16th.

St Patrick's Day parade

The final leg of his visit brings him to New York for a community, economic and cultural programme.

On Friday following a business lunch with the media company Bloomberg, the Taoiseach will visit the Manhattan site of the new Irish Arts Centre - before meeting the representatives of the main Irish immigrant centres.

He will speak at a reception for the Irish community and announce the launch of the New York Washington Ireland Program.

Mr Varadkar's visit concludes on Saturday March 17th, with the traditional New York St Patrick’s Day programme.

This includes a meeting with New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, the St Patrick’s Cathedral mass and walking in the Fifth Avenue parade.


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