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On the shamrocks Taoiseach now unlikely to travel to US as White House examines virtual St Patrick’s Day meeting

Both sides are understood to have accepted that due to Covid-19 the annual bilateral meeting at the White House will more than likely take place virtually.

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Taoiseach Micheal Martin

Taoiseach Micheal Martin

Taoiseach Micheal Martin

TAOISEACH Micheál Martin is now unlikely to travel to the US next month with officials instead examining a virtual St Patrick’s Day meeting with US President Joe Biden, Independent.ie has learned.

The move follows contact between the White House and Irish diplomats in Washington DC in the last 24 hours.

Both sides are understood to have accepted that due to Covid-19 the annual bilateral meeting at the White House will more than likely take place virtually.

A source familiar with the discussions said that this was mutually viewed as increasingly the best option considering the pandemic, although no final decision has been made.

Mr Martin said earlier this week that he would be prepared to undergo vaccination against Covid-19 and travel to the White House if invited.

It is understood that the White House has provided assurances to Irish officials that a virtual event would be a one-off due to Covid-19 and would not set a precedent for future engagements between the Taoiseach and senior US politicians, including the President, around St Patrick’s Day.

Irish diplomats are understood to be seeking engagements with the President, vice-president Kamala Harris, as well as the Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and the Friends of Ireland caucus in Congress - all of which would take place virtually.

A virtual shamrock ceremony where both the Taoiseach and President Biden deliver public remarks is also being discussed.

A government source in Dublin said there was now a "good chance" that there will be a virtual element to the annual St Patrick's Day engagements between the US and Ireland.

A spokesman for the Taoiseach was not able to comment when contacted on Friday afternoon.

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