Burke and Troy heading to Asia on St Patrick's Day trips
Westmeath ministers of state Robert Troy and Peter Burke are heading to Asia for St Patrick's Day.
The two local ministers are among 33 members of government travelling abroad for Ireland's national holiday on March 17. Minister of State Troy is travelling to India to promote Ireland, while Minister of State Burke is travelling to South Korea and Japan.
Speaking to the Westmeath Examiner this morning, Minister of State Burke said that St Patrick's Day gives the government the opportunity to travel across the globe to promote Irish interests and to connect with Irish communities living abroad.
“I know there is a big diaspora in both South Korea and Japan and it will be a chance to engage with them and to strengthen ties between our small open economy and the large economies in both of those countries.
“Everyone knows we are a small open economy and we depend on trade for our survival. No country has a flagship day like St Patrick's Day. It's recognised right across the globe and gives us a window of opportunity to put forward Irish culture, Irish people and everything that is good about our country. It also helps attract investment and trade back into the country.
“I think the government has to make the absolute most of a unique window like that. If you don't make the most out of it, that window will close.”
Minister Burke says that while he has not received his itinerary for his Far Eastern trip yet, he is expecting a hectic few days.
“This is my first time representing the government abroad, but I am told that it is an exceptionally busy time where you have dozens of meetings a day; meeting the diaspora, meeting interest groups that have strong ties with Ireland and meeting business representatives.
“Hopefully with my background in business – I worked as an accountant for a decade – I will have a good understanding of the challenges that people face.
“I can understand why people would be frustrated, especially with the cost of living escalating and the fact that the government has so many challenges, but we have to make the best use of a unique day that happens every year and do our best to sell the country," he said.
The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) says that following a limited number of in-person ministerial visits in 2020 and none last year due to Covid-19, the “central message of this year’s St Patrick’s Day is that Ireland is reopening, and the international programme will focus on the theme of rebuilding connections and supporting communities across the globe”.
“St Patrick’s Day is the primary flagship for realising the ambition of the government’s ‘Global Ireland’ programme to promote Ireland as a great place to live, visit, work, study, and invest, with an integrated, all of government, Team Ireland approach.
“In this centenary year of the foundation of the State, and as Ireland marks the fiftieth anniversary of accession to the EEC, Ministers will underline Ireland’s commitment to the European Union, reinforce Ireland’s commitment to protecting the hard-won peace in Northern Ireland, and celebrate our heritage and renew our links with our global diaspora and business leaders,” the DFA said.
The Taoiseach Micheál Martin is travelling to London and Washington DC to meet President Joe Biden in the White House, while Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is travelling to the South American countries of Columbia and Chile.