Irish Prime Minister hosted by President Obama and Joe Biden at the White House
Official celebration of St. Patrick’s Day in Washington for Irish leader and guests
Ireland’s Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day officially with United States President Barack Obama today. The Irish leader attended breakfast with Vice President Joe Biden, followed by a bilateral meeting with the President in the Oval Office, as well as a lunch hosted by the Speaker of the House of Representative John Boehner.
Kenny attended a breakfast hosted by Joe Biden, in his official residence at the Naval Observatory. This year, the Irish leader's trip to Washington to mark St. Patrick’s Day was delayed as it clashed with a State Visit by British leader David Cameron.
The Vice President joked this morning, “We should do this every year; celebrate St Patrick's Day twice!”
Guests at the breakfast included the crème de la crème of Irish America, including Senator Patrick Leahy, Vicki Kennedy, Admiral Mike Mullen, Gen Martin Dempsey, White House Chief of Staff Bill Daley and the President's counter-terrorism advisor John Brennan.
Biden said that all the Irish leader need to know about American Irish is “our families told us that we Irish are bound together by common values of family, courage and hope, always hope. We found ourselves in situations many times of needing hope."
Turning to the Taoiseach he said, "The thing I love about you old buddy is you're always optimistic. You're always optimistic. That's the Irish." He then offered a toast, "May you all look back on your past with as much pleasure as you look to the future."
The Taoiseach responded, saying, “The situation in Ireland has changed from just a year ago. We have turned a new direction. By decisiveness and clarity the government has given a definition to the horizon and the implementation of our plans to deal with the public finance problems, play our part as European Union members, make the economies of Europe grow."
Biden had spoken of the 18th century Irish revolutionary Wolfe Tone during past meetings; Mr Kenny said, "You said he embodied the most noble virtues. He was a Protestant who founded the United Irishmen. He had nothing to gain, but he sought to relieve the oppression of the Catholics. He gave his life for the principles of civil rights."
Kenny presented Biden with a green leather bound copy of a letter that Wolfe Tone wrote to the French minister of war in 1796, saying he was returning to Ireland "to fight for my country".
After breakfast, Kenny attended a meeting with President Barack Obama in the Oval Office of the White House. Following the meeting the leaders released their remarks.
Obama said, “It is my great pleasure to welcome once again Taoiseach, Mr. Kenny, who has done, I think, extraordinary work during a very difficult time. Over the last several years, we've been able to strike up a friendship. And you'll notice that even though technically it is not St. Patrick's Day, we like to prolong the party around here. Technically, most of the Americans who celebrate St. Patrick's Day aren’t Irish anyway -- (laughter) -- so we shouldn’t go on technicalities.
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