The Irish economy might be on the precipice of disaster, but that won’t get in the way of international trips to promote the country this St. Patrick’s Day season.

With austerity plans afoot to try and cut spending and start the economic recovery, Tourism Minister Mary Hanafin confirmed to the Irish Independent this weekend that a boatload of representatives would be pinning on the shamrock and setting off to far flung corners of the globe to sell the Emerald Isle as a viable place to do business.

"We should be all out there taking this opportunity to promote Ireland," said Hanafin. "St Patrick's Day is our opportunity -- any other country in the world would kill for it.”

Though it is expected that a general election will be called for March, Hanafin hopes that polling day does not coincide with Paddy’s Day.

"The one thing that should not happen, it should not be on St Patrick's weekend," she added. "Because we don't want it to interfere with that."

Hanafin was responding to some criticism aimed at the government by opposition party Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny, who intimated that that the jaunts abroad might be a last goodbye for the current administration, and that foreign politicians, investors and business people might not want to make any commitments to people who may be on the way out of office.

Hanafin disagreed.

"The message is about Ireland. The message is not about Mary Hanafin. It's not about Brian Cowen. It's about Ireland as a place to invest. It's about Ireland as a place to visit.
"It doesn't matter really who the messenger is, it's the message that is important for St Patrick's Day."
 

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