Many countries would “give their small finger” for the access and opportunity St Patrick’s Day travel offers Irish politicians, according to former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte.
He was speaking after the Government confirmed that 33 senior and junior ministers will travel abroad as part of this year’s St Patrick’s Day programme.
It is the first time the full ministerial visit programme is going ahead since the pandemic began.
The Government said ministers will use the visits to “celebrate our heritage and renew our links with our global Diaspora and business leaders”.
The Taoiseach Micheál Martin is travelling to Washington to meet US President Joe Biden as well as visiting London.
Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is visiting Colombia and Chile, while Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe visits the Netherland and London and Transport Minister Eamon Ryan visits New York.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning, former Labour leader Pat Rabbitte said the programme offers a unique opportunity to promote Ireland to the world.
“A certain amount of cynicism is almost inevitable at this time of year, but the fact of the matter is, it is a unique opportunity for a small country to be able to sell its case to the international community as we do on St Patrick’s Day,” he said.
“In terms of investment, in terms of this country having to earn its living by selling things abroad and in terms of advertising and what we have to offer a tourism product and in terms of establishing relations with other countries, it is simply a unique opportunity.”
He said St Patrick’s Day offers Ireland access “other countries would give their small finger for”.
“It differs in terms of the country or country that you visit but in terms of flying the Irish flag there is nothing I can think of that is comparable to it,” he said.
Other countries to be visited by Irish minister over the weekend include Canada, Argentina, France, Australia, Japan, Greece, Italy and Spain.
The Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney will remain in Ireland as ‘minister on call’ and will attend engagements on the island of Ireland.
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