Governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley is visiting Europe on a five-day trip which will see him visit Ireland, north and south, in what has been deemed a “congressional pilgrimage.”
O’Malley, whose Irish heritage inspired his Celtic rock band and his taste in poetry, will visit Dublin along with civil rights leader U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia as part of a 50-person delegation to learn about the island's historic divide and reconciliation efforts, officials have said.
The Baltimore Sun reports that the Governor will then attend attend a conference on progressive governance in Amsterdam on Thursday and Friday before returning to Ireland.
The governor also traveled to Dublin last June and gave a speech at Iveagh House, headquarters of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, to commemorate the 50th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's visit to Ireland.
His trips abroad have raised eyebrows among Republicans, who say they will be watching to ensure that taxpayers are not forced to pay for O'Malley's European ‘Pilgrimage.’
"My biggest concern keeps coming back to: are they paying for everything?" said Joe Cluster, executive director of the Maryland Republican Party. The trips to Europe, he said, "sound political to me. They don't sound like they are furthering the interests of Maryland."
O'Malley's press secretary, Nina Smith, said on Tuesday that the organizers of each event covered all of the governor's expenses, including the security detail that travels with the governor.
On Wednesday, Smith said the Maryland State Police will pick up the tab for troopers on the governor's security detail.
The Washington-based Faith & Politics Institute organized the Ireland trip as part of the group's mission to provide members of Congress with experiences that enhance their leadership, the institute said.