Politics

Taoiseach to remain in US until next week following positive Covid test


Taoiseach Micheál Martin will remain in Washington DC until next week as he isolates following a positive Covid-19 test.

Mr Martin was forced to cancel his in-person at a series of events in the US capital on Thursday, but key meetings – including with President Joe Biden – went ahead virtually.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday night, Mr Martin said he was feeling well and while he was disappointed to miss the meeting with the president in the Oval Office, “It’s not the end of the world” and things had to be kept in perspective, given what was happening across the world.

He said he would chair next week’s Cabinet meeting virtually from Washington and would remain in constant contact with officials and Ministers.

“We will take it day by day and step by step,” he said.

He will also miss the ceremony of remembrance and reflection on Sunday in Dublin for those who lost their lives to Covid-19.

Mr Martin is also likely to miss next week’s European summit in Brussels, which President Biden is also planning to visit for talks on the war in Ukraine, though sources held out the possibility of Mr Martin returning home earlier if he has no symptoms and repeatedly tests negative.

Mr Martin and President Biden hailed the US-Ireland relationship before they met privately for almost an hour on Thursday for discussions on a number of issues, including Ukraine, the Northern Ireland protocol and the forthcoming elections to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the Irish undocumented in the United States, education and economic issues.

Refugees

Speaking in the presence of reporters before the private meeting, Mr Biden paid tribute to Ireland’s efforts to accept Ukrainian refugees, describing it as “amazing”.

“What Ireland is doing now taking in Ukrainian refugees speaks so loudly about your principles,” Mr Biden said. “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 he described as the “like-minded democracies” who had banded together to oppose Russia’s “barbaric attack on the citizens of Ukraine”.

He said Ireland supported 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”.

On Thursday night, Mr Martin said the president may discuss further sanctions and actions against Russia with European Union and Nato leaders next week.

In his opening remarks before his meeting with Mr Martin, President Biden also reiterated his administration’s “unequivocal support” for the Belfast Agreement. “Too much blood, sweat and tears have been shed to get that done, and this is no time to change it.”

On Thursday night, the Taoiseach said he had invited Mr Biden to Ireland. He said the president indicated he would very much like to visit when the opportunity arose.



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