Written Answers. - Official Visit Expenditure.

Wednesday, 23 March 1994

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 440 No. 5

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  48.  Mr. Yates  Information on Ivan Yates  Zoom on Ivan Yates   asked the Minister for Social Welfare  Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods   the total cost of ministerial trips from his Department's Vote in conjunction with St. Patrick's Day celebrations throughout the world.

Minister for Social Welfare (Dr. Woods): Information on Michael J. Woods  Zoom on Michael J. Woods  I represented the Government at the many St. Patrick's Day events in Savannah, Georgia, where some 18 per cent of the population is of Irish descent. The St. Patrick's Day parade in Savannah, which is the oldest parade in the US, is one of the largest, next to the New York parade and attracts over 300,000 people.

The events planned around St. Patrick's Day by Irish Americans afford Government Ministers the unique opportunity to promote the benefits of investing in Ireland to top American business men and women. These visits are fundamentally important in showing solidarity with the 44 million strong Irish American community. They also represent an opportunity to show Ireland's appreciation of the continuing interest and support of the US in Irish affairs and this year, particularly, its support for the Joint Declaration. My programme included several addresses to top Irish American business people and prominent Irish societies and associations. Specifically, in relation to social welfare, the visit afforded me the opportunity to promote to Irish emigrants the benefits of the Bilateral Agreement on Social Security pensions which Dáil Éireann approved and I brought into effect in September last. This agreement, which among other things allows for the payment of US pensions to returned emigrants here in Ireland, is expected to be worth some $35 million to the Irish economy annually. It is estimated that the total cost of the visit will be approximately £12,000.


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