The Taoiseach should travel to Washington for St Patrick’s Day this year, despite coronavirus restrictions, according to the Foreign Affairs Minister.
It remains unclear whether Micheál Martin will travel to the White House for the annual meeting with the US President this year due to ongoing coronavirus restrictions.
Last week, the Government moved to strengthen international travel restrictions, with anyone who fails to isolate on arrival in Ireland facing prosecution.
Meanwhile, those who arrive without a negative COVID test will soon face mandatory quarantine in a hotel – along with all arrivals from South America or South Africa.
On The Pat Kenny Show this morning, the Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said the Taoiseach can make the trip in a ‘safe way.’
“Any foreign travel for St Patrick’s Day this year will be very, very restricted,” he said.
“My personal view is that the Taoiseach should of course go to Washington and I think that can be managed in a way that is safe.
“I think the access and influence Ireland has in Washington is something that is an extraordinary privilege.”
He insisted there is ‘no danger’ of the Taoiseach infecting US President.
“There is no danger that the Taoiseach will pose any public health threat if he travels to Washington which I hope he will,” he said.
“When foreign travel takes place that is essential, there is a testing protocol which is rigorous for ministers.
“It involves testing before you go, testing while you’re there, testing when you come back and testing five days after you come back to ensure that public representatives and ministers in particular pose no threat and lead by example.
“That is the approach that the Taoiseach will be taking.”
He said it remains to be seen whether US authorities will expect Mr Martin to be vaccinated before sitting down with President Biden.
Minister Coveney also addressed the controversy over the EUs threat to suspend part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement in a row over vaccine delivery, noting that it was a “costly mistake” by Brussels.
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