Ireland’s leader Enda Kenny told US Vice President Joe Biden and his guests at the Naval Observatory in Washington that he hopes legislation for immigration reform would be introduced by the end of summer.
Kenny told the audience he had spoken with Democratic senators Chuck Schumer and Pat Leahy, and House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, about the reform of US immigration laws. Among those in attendance at the Vice President’s traditional St Patrick’s Day event were Democratic senator Pat Leahy from Vermont, governor of Maryland Martin O’Malley and Vicki Kennedy, the widow of the late Massachusetts senator Ted Kennedy.
The Irish Prime Minister said the introduction of legislative changes “would be good for America, good for the many different nationalities that are here and certainly important in an Irish sense where we have 50,000 undocumented.”
He said those undocumented Irish in the US “want to be legitimized and they want to contribute legitimately to the United States, and we hope that can come about.”
Having confirmed that Biden would visit Ireland later this year, Kenny said he hoped “we can have a little round on the golf course if we get an opportunity.”
Biden’s St. Patrick’s Day breakfast kicked off on Wednesday morning at 8.15am after the Vice President returned from the installation of Pope Francis I as the new leader of the Catholic Church in the Vatican.
As the 40 guests, clad in green, dined on scrambled eggs, pancakes and Irish bread the Vice President commented on how there was, very nearly, an Irish American at the helm of the Vatican, joking that Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley had been in with a chance.
He said, “We almost made it big. We almost had a chance at power. We came that close, that close.”
Biden went on to blame Terry Donilon, the cardinal’s communications director and brother of White House National Security Adviser Tom who had “said something wrong.”
“We could have had an American Irish Catholic Pope but we would have shared him with you,” he added.
He said that while in Rome he had been impressed by Pope Francis and said, “He seems like all he is advertised to be – a genuine, generous, humble man.”
He went on to explain his own Irish roots, being five-eighths Irish, and how he had an aunt who was English, on his father’s side. He went on to read lines from the poem “My Mother’s Land A-Ruin” which begins “Oh how I hate the name England...” He declined to read out all the lines however, Kenny joked he would read the rest.
Kenny went on to speak about the strong ties between the United States and Ireland and the many people he had met during his trip to mark St. Patrick’s Day.
He said, “We have had a great privilege of meeting a very broad cross-section of American business and politics.
“It is truly is extraordinary that for a small country it has such a range of connections here in the great United States.”
He added, “May those links never be broken.”