Saudi king travels in style: On a mission

Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s St Patrick’s Day visit to the White House next week will go ahead because pragmatism has trumped principle.

It will go ahead because we need America far, far more than America needs us.

However, had Mr Kenny chosen to travel in the grand style of Saudi Arabia’s Salman the criticism would be shrill and entirely justified. Despite imposing cutbacks, just like Mr Kenny, the king arrived in Indonesia on Wednesday leading a retinue of about 1,500 people.

They arrived in six Boeing passenger jets and one Lockheed C-130 Hercules, a military transport aircraft carrying 460 tonnes of cargo, two Mercedes-Benz S600 limousines and two electric elevators for the king’s use.

An Indonesian freight company employed 572 workers to deal with the delegation’s luggage.

Next week, the usual voices will make half-cocked criticisms of ministers’ St Patrick’s Day visits abroad to promote Ireland, an essential exercise in a world where competition for investment and jobs is ever sharper.

Unless we, like Saudi Arabia, strike oil, these visits remain worthwhile.


Frits Potgieter is General Manager with Muckross Park Hotel and Spa.You've Been Served: Frits Potgieter, Muckross Park Hotel and Spa

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