TÁNAISTE Mary Coughlan will be left in charge of Ireland next week when Brian Cowen visits New York and Washington for his first St Patrick's Day trips abroad as taoiseach.
Cowen has announced only 17 ministers will take to the sky this year, compared to 33 last year, as the government attempts to save money in the current crisis.
Last year, the trips cost €532,621 but the government hopes to slash that bill in half this year as a smaller entourage go on the trips.
Cowen will meet new US president Barack Obama for the traditional White House celebrations on St Patrick's Day.
The Minister for Finance will be making the short trip to London while the Minister for Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, Eamon O Cuiv will be making the longest trip to Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne.
Coughlan and the Minister for Justice, Dermot Ahern, the Minister for Health, Mary Harney, defence minister Willie O'Dea, environment minister, John Gormley and the education minister Batt O'Keeffe will all stay at home to work on preparations for emergency budget next week.
Only five junior ministers will be travelling abroad this year, compared to 14 in 2008 and the junior minister for science and technology, Jimmy Devins will be travelling the furthest distance out of the group of junior ministers as he is heading to Chicago.
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