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Strong local representation as government announce who is heading abroad for St Patrick’s Day

Martin Heydon, Sean Fleming, Conor Bergin, Pippa Hackett St Patrick's Day

There will be strong local representation abroad on St Patrick’s Day as the government have confirmed who will be Ireland’s representatives.

Laois TD and Minister for State at the Department of Finance, Sean Fleming, is off to a region defined as ‘North of England, Scotland, UK’.

While the Green Party’s Pippa Hackett, who hails from Geashill just over the border in Offaly, is off to a far more glamorous location.

The Minister of State for Land Use and Biodiversity will be Ireland’s representative in Greece.

Meanwhile, Junior Minister for Agriculture, Martin Heydon is off to Lebanon.

Minister Heydon, who has been a Fine Gael TD since 2011, serves the constituency of Kildare South an area that also includes Portarlington, Killenard and Ballybrittas.

This will be the first time since 2019 that Irish politicians will travel abroad for the St Patrick’s Day celebrations.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, foreign travel has not been possible for the last two years but it now is.

At last month’s meeting of Laois County Council, it was decided that the current Cathaoirleach and the previous two should go to New York for St Patrick’s Day.

Once again, the council has received their annual invitation to take part in the huge parade, by the Laois Association in New York.

The usual visit is over several days and involves walking in the parade, as well as attending meetings to promote Laois for business and tourism.

Fine Gael’s Conor Bergin is the current Cathaoirleach while Fianna Fail’s Catherine Fitzgerald and Fine Gael’s Willie Aird came before him.

Cathaoirleach Cllr Conor Bergin gave a speech announcing his honour at the opportunity.

He said: “The last representative to attend was Cllr John King. I will be honoured to represent the people of Laois abroad.

“It is my intention to leave my calling card for Laois. I’ll be meeting the IDA, Enterprise Ireland and Tourism Ireland to promote business, remote working in Laois, and tourism.

“This is a significant opportunity to renew old ties, and reach out to the diaspora. It is important that we reengage face to face meetings. Other counties will also send representatives.

“I vote that myself, the Chief Executive and area representatives go and report back.”

The following visits will take place as part of the St. Patrick’s Day programme:

  • Taoiseach Micheál Martin – London, UK; Washington DC, USA
  • Tánaiste Leo Varadkar – Colombia; Chile
  • Minister Eamon Ryan – New York, USA
  • Minister Paschal Donohoe – The Netherlands; London, UK
  • Minister Michael McGrath – San Francisco, USA; Vancouver, Canada
  • Minister Catherine Martin – Argentina
  • Minister Darragh O’Brien – UAE (Expo)
  • Minister Simon Coveney – Minister on call/Engagements on island of Ireland
  • Minister Norma Foley – Boston, USA
  • Minister Heather Humphreys – No travel
  • Minister Roderic O’Gorman – New York, USA; Philadelphia, USA
  • Minister Simon Harris – France
  • Minister Helen McEntee – Savannah, USA
  • Minister Stephen Donnelly – Austin, USA
  • Minister Charlie McConalogue – Canada
  • Minister of State Jack Chambers – LA, USA
  • Minister of State Pippa Hackett – Greece
  • Minister of State Hildegarde Naughton – Australia; New Zealand
  • Minister of State Thomas Byrne – Italy
  • Minister of State Patrick O’Donovan – Chicago, USA
  • Minister of State Ossian Smyth – Spain; Portugal
  • Minister of State Josepha Madigan – Slovenia
  • Minister of State Martin Heydon – Lebanon
  • Minister of State Anne Rabbitte – Romania
  • Minister of State Colm Brophy – Mexico
  • Minister of State Joe O’Brien – Finland
  • Minister of State Peter Burke – Japan; South Korea
  • Minister of State Malcom Noonan – No travel
  • Minister of State Robert Troy – India
  • Minister of State Damien English – Sweden
  • Minister of State Mary Butler – Belgium
  • Minister of State Frank Feighan – Poland
  • Minister of State Niall Collins – Croatia
  • Minister of State Sean Fleming – North of England; Scotland, UK
  • Minister of State James Browne – Czech Republic
  • Attorney General – Washington DC, USA

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Stradbally native Alan Hartnett is a graduate of Knockbeg College who has worked in the local and national media since 2008. Alan has a BA in Economics, Politics and Law and an MA in Journalism from DCU. His happiest moment was when Jody Dillon scored THAT goal in the Laois senior football final in 2016.