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McAleese set to attend World Expo in Shanghai

2010. 24 January

by Niamh Connolly
( President Mary McAleese is expected to attend the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai this summer as part of a government effort to boost international confidence in the Irish economy.

The Department of the Taoiseach is responsible for Ireland’s participation in the event,
which runs from May to October and is expected to attract 70 million visitors.

McAleese will attend the event in June or July, subject to a formal invitation from the Chinese government.

A spokeswoman for Aras an Uachtaráin confirmed proposals for McAleese’s trip, but said it had not been formally confirmed. The Taoiseach’s office plans to have a strong Irish presence at the event, which has the theme of sustainable living in an urban environment.

Taoiseach Brian Cowen and several of his cabinet ministers will also take part in international trade missions organised by Enterprise Ireland and IDA Ireland during this year. Cowen is expected to travel to the US for five days in March, as part of the St Patrick’s Day celebrations. His itinerary is likely to include Washington, San Francisco and New York.

Mary Coughlan, the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, will be in Barcelona next month for the Mobile World Congress, which will be attended by Enterprise Ireland and dozens of Irish technology companies. Coughlan will also travel to Australia in May on a trade mission organised by Enterprise Ireland and the IDA.

Trade missions are planned by the Tánaiste in the second half of the year to Russia, Brazil and the Gulf region. Billy Kelleher, the minister of state with responsibility for trade, is to visit New York next month for an animation and digital media event.

Several cabinet ministers will also travel abroad for St Patrick’s Day events in March.

While there were plans for finance minister Brian Lenihan to travel to Boston and New York next month on a financial services trade mission, it is unclear if this will proceed.

The secretary general of the Department of Foreign Affairs last week said that ministers were ‘‘afraid’’ to go abroad because of the public scrutiny of their foreign travel and expenses.

At a meeting of the Public Accounts Committee, David Cooney said that ‘‘we have to promote ourselves abroad. If we don’t, we will not prosper as a country’’.