€23m plan for St Patrick's Day announced

Wednesday 12 February 2014 19.22
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Australia's iconic Sydney Opera House is lit with green lights to mark St Patrick's Day 2013
Australia's iconic Sydney Opera House is lit with green lights to mark St Patrick's Day 2013
The fountain at the White House was also turned green
The fountain at the White House was also turned green
People attending the St Patrick's Day parade in New York last year
People attending the St Patrick's Day parade in New York last year
Bill de Blasio is to boycott the New York parade due to a ban on posters and banners promoting gay rights or issues
Bill de Blasio is to boycott the New York parade due to a ban on posters and banners promoting gay rights or issues

The Government and Tourism Ireland have announced plans for the largest ever global St Patrick's Day celebrations.

The €23m plan to boost tourism will include targeted campaigns around the world to coincide with St Patrick's Day.

This year, the ancient Rock of Petra in Jordan and three major ski slopes in Norway, Canada and Austria will be among the global landmarks turning green for the day.

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland Paris will also go green for the first time.

About 70 landmarks and iconic sites including the Pyramids in Egypt, the Empire State Building and the Sydney Opera House will also take part in the annual initiative.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Minister for Tourism Leo Varadkar said this year will be the fourth time that Ireland "greens" monuments and buildings around the world.

It is something that is very successful and gets Ireland a huge amount of publicity, he said.

He added that he thinks it brings a smile to people's faces, at a very minimal cost.

Asked about controversy surrounding the St Patrick's Day parade in New York, Mr Varadkar said people should make up their own minds.

Irish gay rights organisations have called on the Government to boycott the parade.

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio last week said he would boycott the city's parade due to a ban on posters and banners promoting gay rights or issues.

Asked whether the Taoiseach should attend the parade, Mr Varadkar said he thinks it is up to people themselves to decide whether or not they want to attend.

He said the Government is very committed to equal rights for lesbian, gay and bisexual citizens.

It is bringing in a referendum next year on marriage equality and legislation this year to facilitate adoptions for same-sex couples, he said.

Mr Varadkar said he did not think anyone could doubt the Government's credentials in that regard.

He said it was important to remember there would be a lot of gay people participating in the parade and that the ban is on a particular type of banner, not on people.

Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore has said he thinks that the rules of the New York parade should be changed.

He said he thinks that parades should be inclusive and that the New York parade is a very important one.

CEO of Tourism Ireland Niall Gibbons has said he hoped cool heads would prevail in relation to the threatened strike action at Aer Lingus.

SIPTU has warned Aer Lingus, the DAA and the Shannon Airport Authority that they could face a full withdrawal of labour after staff overwhelmingly backed industrial action in a long-running dispute over pensions.