herald

Friday 24 March 2017

Let's save a fortune by turning down Trump's invitation to the White House

Enda Kenny and Barack Obama
Enda Kenny and Barack Obama

Under FOI legislation, we know that between 2011 and 2014 we spent a staggering €705,000 on Paddy's Day ministerial trips to just about every far-flung place.

Believe or not, our modest Taoiseach Enda Kenny forked out €142,000 during his visit to the Oval Office in 2013.

In 2015, more than 20 ministers were dispatched across the globe.

Governments down the years have always staunchly defended the value of these goodwill tours.

I agree that it is a powerful opportunity every year to showcase our little country and highlight the advantages of bringing foreign investment here, and of course to advertise the tourist attraction that is our beautiful island.

Envy

The traditional annual visit of the Taoiseach to the White House to present the crystal bowl of shamrock is the cause of envy that we have access to the most powerful man in the world every March.

However, I think this year the Government should take a stand against US president Donald Trump and refuse the invitation.

That aside, it was with much interest and not without a great deal of cynicism that I read of the advice being offered by mandarins in the Department of Finance to this year's crop of ambassadors.

They were advised in a memo to go handy on expenses. They were told not to book themselves or their entourage into five-star hotels and to use economy class flights for their travels.

So this year it would seem that our roving envoys will be forced to say no to flying first-class and the culinary experience of Michelin-starred restaurants. Poor souls.

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