Ministerial travel reductions for St Patrick’s celebration’s populist politics, but is it the correct one?

St Patrick’s day is one of them rare occasion when the focus of the world is on Ireland for all the right reasons. The exposure Ireland gets on worldwide TV and press coverage is on par with any major international sporting event you can think of, it’s simply not possible to buy that kind of publicity.  This is one occasion where an excellent opportunity exists for our Government ministers and trade delegations to sell Ireland to the world. While current focus is on all public expenditure the decision by Taoiseach Enda Kenny to reduce the numbers traveling abroad, it is a knee jerk reaction to the appalling waste of tax payer’s money by previous administration on St Patrick’s junkets.  It should have been possible to send the same or slightly reduced numbers by ensuring all delegates’ traveled either business or economy class and staying in either 3-4 star hotel or ambassador residencies and capping expense.

Today’s decision sends out the wrong message to all those countries who put on celebrations in honour of our country, many of who have never set foot in our country and yet share an affection for Irish culture and language. A unique opportunity exists for us to develop better business links with the likes of China, Japan and India.

When you take out the 4th of July and Bastille Day how many other countries can you name who get this international exposure on their national day? The value of our Arts and culture to sell Ireland abroad is immense and we are failing to capitalise on that by not having representatives at many of these parades this year.

Reducing the number of Ministers travelling abroad maybe populist politics, but is it the correct one?

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