Taoiseach set for five-state tour of US for St Patrick's Day trip

Enda Kenny will meet with US president Donald Trump in the White House on the morning of March 16. 

Taoiseach set for five-state tour of US for St Patrick's Day trip

Enda Kenny has announced a five-state tour during what is expected to be his final St Patrick’s Day trip to the US as Taoiseach.

He will fly straight back to Ireland after his US trip, increasing the speculation around when he will announce his departure date.

Mr Kenny will face mounting pressure from within Fine Gael to announce his plans to step down as soon as he returns.

At the Fine Gael parliamentary party meeting last week, Mr Kenny set out to quell calls for him to step down by stating that he would deal conclusively with the issue on his return from the US.

In a swansong tour of the east coast, Mr Kenny is due to travel to five states over the course of five days, including Washington, DC, for the traditional shamrock ceremony.

Mr Kenny will meet with US president Donald Trump in the White House on the morning of March 16.

He will travel to Capitol Hill before the annual shamrock ceremony with Mr Trump that evening.

When asked if Mr Kenny would be raising the issue of immigration with Mr Trump, a spokesman for the Taoiseach said: “I don’t think there is any doubt that he will.”

He will then fly to New York to attend the St Patrick’s Day parade. It is likely, but not confirmed, that Mr Kenny will walk in the city’s parade.

The spokesman said it is “likely” Mr Kenny will return from New York to Ireland late on St Patrick’s Day or early the following day, where he will face calls to make his intentions on stepping down clear.

Separately, Mr Kenny yesterday updated the Cabinet on elections in Northern Ireland, which take place tomorrow.

Mr Kenny said it is important that the institutions in the North are re-established as quickly as possible after the vote. He hopes political parties could come together as soon as next Monday for talks.

It is not yet decided whether one or more ministers may be asked to stay in Ireland over the St Patrick’s week to be on hand if negotiations in Northern Ireland are ongoing.

Transport Minister Shane Ross is not travelling abroad during this time.

Mr Kenny will make a speech on Traveller ethnicity in the Dáil this evening, after the Cabinet formally agreed to recognise Travellers as a distinct ethnic minority.

Junior minister David Stanton yesterday attended the meeting to brief ministers on the measure, which has been called for over many years.

The European Commission had previously suggested that Ireland breached racial laws because Travellers here are facing discrimination.

Mr Ross briefed his Cabinet colleagues on the financial crisis at Bus Éireann but maintained his position that he cannot get involved in the dispute between management and workers as the losses relate to commercial Expressway services.

The Cabinet also received a report back on US pre-clearance facilities at Dublin and Shannon Airports. The report was commissioned in the wake of Mr Trump’s immigration order in January.

A Government spokesman said the report, which has yet to be published, found that there are “no illegal issues” in relation to pre-clearance at Irish airports.

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