Micheál Martin can't come back to Ireland from US for ten days after testing positive for Covid

Mr Martin met with Joe Biden virtually earlier today, where the US President praised Ireland’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis
US President Joe Biden meeting virtually with Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC today. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

US President Joe Biden meeting virtually with Taoiseach Micheál Martin in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC today. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

Gabija Gataveckaite

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will have to stay in the US for at least ten days, under local public health rules, it has emerged.

Earlier today Mr Martin met US President Joe Biden virtually in the White House, where Mr Biden thanked him for taking over 7,000 Ukrainian refugees.

He appeared via tele conference after last night testing positive for Covid-19, from Blair House where he is currently staying.

Travel guidelines in Washington state that there should be no international travel for ten days.

A source close to the Taoiseach confirmed that he will not be able to travel for ten days. This will mean that Mr Martin will miss European Council next week.

He met with President Biden for just over an over an hour and the two men discussed the economy, Brexit, the Good Friday Agreement, the situation in Ukraine, it is understood.

They also discussed the undocumented Irish in the US.

Mr Biden was seated beside a traditional bowl of shamrock during the meeting.

“Last year, we met virtually across the Atlantic, this year we’re meeting virtually across the road,” said Mr Martin.

“So we’re getting closer,” laughed Mr Martin.

“Of course, it is unfortunate, but it is no more than that.”

“It reminds us of the importance of the vaccine."

Mr Biden thanked Mr Martin for Ireland taking in over 7,000 Ukrainian refugees fleeing the war.

“It speaks so loudly about your principles,” he said.

“Its our duty,” said Mr Martin.

Quoting WB Yeats, Mr Biden said “alls changed, changed utterly, a terrible beauty has been born”.

“He was talking about his Ireland and what was gonna come, which turned out to be better than worse.

“I think your leadership on the global stage really has been noticeable and impressive.”

Mr Biden said that Ireland’s efforts to accept Ukrainian refugees were “amazing”.

“What Ireland is doing now taking in Ukrainian refugees speaks so loudly about your principles . . . It’s amazing and I want to publicly compliment you for it. Thank you. Thank you.”

Mr Martin commended President Biden for his leadership of what “like minded democracies” who had banded together to oppose Russia’s “barbaric attack on the citizens of Ukraine”.

He said that Ireland supports the “broadest and widest sanctions as possible”, and said it was “extremely important that we keep this unity of purpose” in seeking to end the “unjustifiable and immoral war”, He said that Russia’s invasion was inflicting “terrible trauma on the children of Ukraine and their mothers”.

Meanwhile, Mr Martin said that he was “feeling good” after testing positive for Covid-19.

The Taoiseach “reiterated” an invitation for President Biden to come visit Ireland during the virtual bilateral meeting today, with Mr Biden saying he would love to visit Ireland again.

President Michael D Higgins today sent his "good wishes" to Mr Martin. "I was so very sorry to learn of this news breaking while the Taoiseach was busy representing Ireland in the United States leading up to our National Day," Mr Higgins said in a statement.

"The Taoiseach has had a gruelling schedule working for our country over recent weeks. I know that this work is continuing as he takes the necessary steps following his positive test.

"I wish the Taoiseach a speedy recovery and also wish him further success with the continuation of his programme in Washington, and in overcoming the necessary constraints involved.

"Sabina joins me in sending our good wishes to the Taoiseach and to his wife, Mary.

"Go raibh biseach air go luath."

The Irish delegation was tested again last night and this morning, and no new positive cases were found, officials said.

Separately, the US President said that Ireland has “taken a hit” for stepping up to help the war in Ukraine.

Mr Biden called Russian President Vladimir Putin a “murderous dictator” and a “pure thug” in a Speaker’s Lunch at Capitol Hill, as part of St Patrick’s Day festivities.

In the absence of the self-isolating Taoiseach, Ireland’s Ambassador in the US Dan Mulhall represented the country.

“Everybody talks about Germany having stepped up and changed motions about being more leaning forward and they have, so has Ireland, a neutral country,” said Mr Biden.

“Ireland has stepped up and taken a hit for what they’re doing.”

He paid tribute to Ireland’s efforts to help the crisis by taking in over 7,000 refugees.

He said Ireland is paying “a big price” for the sanctions imposed against Russia.

“And by the way, the Republic is paying a big price for this, a big number for supporting the strategy for supporting the sanctions.

“It’s not a minor contribution that they’re making to this effort, it’s significant,” he said.

He also said that Mr Putin is paying a “big price for his aggression” and that Ireland is “part of the reason why the cost is going so high”.

He said that the US and Ireland are working together for the first time on the UN Security Council in a relationship which is “dynamic”.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi also addressed the event, paying tribute to the Taoiseach for his role in “promoting peace” in Ukraine.

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