(WASHINGTON) -- Amidst the shamrocks, Guinness and corned beef, and general merriment of St. Patrick’s Day at the White House and on Capitol Hill Thursday, the visit by Ireland’s new prime minister is also a critical outreach mission.
Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny has been in power for less than two weeks. But his trip to Washington this week is significant back in Dublin because it is essentially a sales pitch.
The new Irish government wants to reassure American businesses that it’s still okay to invest in Ireland, despite the fact that the economy is practically on the brink of collapse and the Irish may have to raise their once-very friendly corporate taxes in order to pay off the massive bailouts they received from the European Union.
Kenny is the leader of the center-right political party, Fine Gael, which brokered a coalition government agreement with the center-left Labour party earlier this month. Fine Gael, Labour and the more hard line nationalist/liberal Sinn Fein party won a record numbers of seats in a national election in late February -- in fact, some reports say that this is the first time in Irish history that the Left holds the majority of seats in the government.
So, while everyone Thursday will toast the strong ties between the United States and Ireland, the mission of the Irish Prime Minister is about more than just sharing a pint and a bowl of shamrocks.
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