The Cabinet has approved a list of limited St Patrick's Day visits for ministers to key European and North American cities.

This year Taoiseach Leo Varadkar plus eight ministers will represent Ireland abroad for the national holiday.

Mr Varadkar will lead the mission with the annual bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump in the White House.

Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney told the Cabinet that the list was modest and balanced and should proceed given the unique opportunity to promote Ireland to political, business and cultural audiences.

The criteria used to decide on the cities includes: (a) destinations of indisputable and immediate value to our interests, and, (b) destinations that have a significant Diaspora community.

The US visits include Mr Varadkar travelling to Washington DC; Mr Coveney to New York; Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys to Sacramento; Minister for Agriculture Michael Creed to Chicago; Minister for Rural Affairs Michael Ring to Boston; and Minister of State for Defence Paul Kehoe to Savannah.

Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe will be in Paris and Brussels, while Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan will be in Berlin.

Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Josepha Madigan will be in London for the first St Patrick's Day parade since the UK left the EU.

The Cabinet members remaining in Ireland are Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Education Joe McHugh, who was due to travel to Canada but made the decision at the weekend to stay home to deal with coronavirus.

Attorney General Séamus Woulfe will also travel to New York.

The Tánaiste told Cabinet that the key messages for ministers include that Ireland remains a dedicated member of the EU, that it is working towards a close trading relationship with the UK post-Brexit, and highlighting the political turning point in Northern Ireland with the return of Stormont and powersharing as envisaged by the Good Friday Agreement.

Ministers will also promote Ireland's economy and global visibility.

Conditions apply to this year's trips including a ban on first-class air tickets, hotel suites and hired limousines. 

Mr Coveney said delegations should be kept to a minimum.

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