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Taoiseach Enda Kenny has today told an audience of business leaders in Washington, DC, that Ireland is open for business and has a strong and stable Government for national recovery.
Mr Kenny, who is in the city ahead of the St Patrick's Day celebrations tomorrow, said the Government "will do what is necessary" to rein in the State's debt and bring its public finances and banks into "proper order".
During his speech, the Taoiseach said: "I want us to use the spirit and purpose of Patrick to create a very different public, political and business narrative.
"A narrative based on the very ideas on which he based his life: compassion, gentleness, sincerity, responsibility, respect, honour, forgiveness, redemption, restitution, love, letting go."
Declaring a renewal was already under way, Mr Kenny said Ireland was an "unbeatable country" whose time was "coming again".
The high point of Mr Kenny’s stay in Washington will be a meeting in the Oval Office with President Barack Obama tomorrow and the White House reception tomorrow evening. He is also scheduled to meet US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner this evening.
Closer to home, preparations are under way for a series of parades around the country with over 100 events taking place across the island of Ireland.
Almost 280,000 passengers are expected to travel through Dublin airport over the course of the St Patrick's Day Festival this weekend from tomorrow.
Met Éireann is forecasting a damp and misty start to St Patrick's Day, but weather is expected to quickly improve and should be fine from mid-morning onwards.
Overall, nine Ministers are travelling abroad for St Patrick’s Day festivities this year, down from the 22 who left Ireland in 2010.
Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore will be in New York for St Patrick's Day. Paris beckons for Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney, while Ruairí Quinn, Minister for Education, visits Rome and Milan. Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald will go to Australia and New Zealand. Minister for Social Protection Joan Burton heads for London today and tomorrow. Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Affairs Jimmy Deenihan arrived back in Ireland yesterday after two-day official visit to London.
India is the destination for Leo Varadkar, Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport. He began his visit in New Delhi today with a series of meeting with business, aviation, education and tourism interest.
Over 500,000 people are expected to attend the Dublin parade which will start at Parnell Square at noon tomorrow and is scheduled to end at about 2pm at St Patrick's Cathedral.
Boxing champion Katie Taylor will be the grand marshal for this year’s parade which has a literary theme. Parade participants will interpret a specially-commissioned short story Brilliant by Roddy Doyle.
There will be no parking along the route of the parade from 7pm and a number of roads will be closed throughout the city tomorrow. However, gardaí are to re-open roads as the parade passes.
The following roads will be closed from 5am to 3pm: Dominick Street Upr; Mountjoy Street; Palmerston Place; St Mary's Place North; Granby Row; Parnell Square; part of O’Connell Street; O’Connell Bridge; Westmoreland Street; College Green, Dame Street; Lord Edward Street and Christchurch Place.
Nicholas Street, Patrick Street and New Street South will close from 5am to 4pm. Clanbrassil Street and Newmarket Square from 5am to 4.30pm.
More than half a million attendees are expected at the Cork parade will start at Parnell Bridge at 1pm tomorrow, before travelling on towards South Mall, Grand Parade, Patrick St, Merchants Quay and finishing up on Parnell Place.
The parade route will be closed from 11:45am until after it has finished. Copley St, Union Quay and Lapps Quay will also be closed from 6am.
The Belfast parade will depart City Hall at 12pm and then travel into Donegall Square North and Chichester St, before turning into Victoria Street and then Custom House Square.
Donegall Square, Wellington Place and Chichester Street will be closed to all traffic for the duration of the parade. Victoria Street will be closed while the parade moves along it to Custom House Square.
As many as 60,000 people are expected at the Galway parade which will start on Father Burke Road at 12.30pm before travelling onto Fairhill Road; Dominic Street; Bridge Street; Mainguard Street; Shop Street; William Street; Williamgate Street and onto Eyre Square. The route will be closed from approx 10am to 3pm.
Elsewhere, about 40,000 people are expected at the Waterford parade which begins at The Glen at 1pm and continues onwards Thomas Street; The Quays; and The Mall and onto Parnell Street. A large number of road closures will be in place in the city centre from 9:30am to 2:30pm and motorists should avoid driving into the city.
Up to 30,000 people are expected to attend the Limerick city parade which will start on O'Connell Avenue at midday before travelling towards The Crescent; O'Connell Street; Patrick Street and Bank Place.
No parking will be allowed along the route from 4am. Traffic will not be permitted inbound over Sarsfield Bridge and only local traffic will be able to access the traffic from Union Cross between 11am and 2pm.
Elsewhere, gardaí and the Road Safety Authority (RSA) have announced a major campaign in the run up St Patrick’s Day as new figures show there have been 49 road deaths so far this year, 15 more than for the same period last year.
Last year over the St Patrick's holiday weekend 323 drivers were arrested for drink driving and 849 were caught speeding.
“As people travel throughout the country to various social and sporting events over the St Patrick’s day period, I appeal to everyone using the road to think safe and act safely at all times," said Assistant Commissioner John Twomey
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